A management role might seem a hundred light years away from where you are currently, but the reality is, it might be much close than you think. Whilst management is often perceived as something that has to be worked up towards, something that requires you to climb ladders and tick boxes before such a position is awarded, there is every chance that, with the right mind set and knowledge, not only will you be able to secure a management role as a graduate, you’ll be able to flourish and succeed within that role. Here are three lessons you can take from your current environment and turn them into something positive for your leadership career!
The first thing to know about any management role is that it’s a social one. Your ability to succeed will hinge directly on your people skills, your ability to converse and drum up a dialogue, your aptitude when it comes to building relationships and reaching out to people. As a manager, your team is everything, and forging and maintaining strong bridges to them as individuals will be the difference that makes you successful out in the field. Relationships are incomparably important and knowing how they work is one of the most prominent skills you’ll need!
Believing in your own ability is something you won’t get far in life without, and that’s a general rule across the board. Having the confidence to trust your instincts and your decisions is a difficult thing to learn, but knowing where the balance lies is even trickier. In a management role, your confidence should never be overbearing; it can be authoritative and final, however it’s all too easy to let this become too domineering, so much so that you could cause dissent and disengagement amongst your team. Learn how to find the right balance between being a strong decision-maker and being overconfident. When you work in teams, think about how the project is being managed, what people tend to work with and what they work against.
Of course, you can’t have the confidence to be a strong decision-maker without the ability to think critically. You currently find yourself in situations everyday wherein you must be reflective, responsive, analytical and methodical in your approach, even if you don’t realize it. If you start observing and analysing these situations, you’ll be one step ahead and better prepared to step right into the role you’ll aim for as a graduate. University is, essentially, one of the best environments for developing critical thinking, so long as you pay attention to your circumstances.
Emotions can delve deeply into the equilibrium of a social situation, and one thing a manager must be able to do, is know when to exercise control. Whilst this sounds like becoming a cold and calculated management machine, it’s simply more of a case of analysing situational congruence and knowing whether particular emotions you may be experiencing will be appropriate. You’ll need all your emotions to build relationships with your people, but knowing how and when to keep them under control is the key. Again, you likely already do this on a daily basis, you just don’t realize it. Think about when you decide to keep certain emotions hidden, and how that skill might be applicable in a professional environment.
Consider how you function socially and cognitively every day, things you do without even thinking; you’ll quickly find there’s plenty of opportunity to learn all you need to know to be successful right where you are!