5 ways to prepare for a role as a confident and effective leader and manager


Sometimes, fear and anxiety can overwhelm us when we have to approach our first leadership position. Being an effective leader and manager requires the ability to lead people in doing a certain task. This can sometimes be a little scary. Here are five strategies for how to be an effective leader without letting the stress and anxiety get the better of you.

For many people, professional success means securing a leadership role but transitioning to the C-suite isn’t always straightforward. If your career seems to have hit a plateau, you may need to take a step back and rethink your strategy.

5 preparation strategies to be effective leader and manager

With these top five tips, you can put your career back on track and ensure you’re ready to take on a role as an effective leader and manager.

1. Identify Your Goals

If you’re aiming to become an effective leader simply because it seems like the next logical step in your career, take some time to think about what you really want from a leadership role. There’s no doubt that a role in the C-suite can increase your earning power and give you more responsibility, but there can be downsides too.

Once you’re in a leadership role, you’re likely to work longer hours and be under increased pressure, for example. If you’re determined to succeed as an executive and you thrive under pressure, however, transitioning into a leadership role could be right for you.

If so, map out a one-year, five-year, and 10-year plan, so you can identify your goals and create a strategy to achieve them. This will give you solid targets to aim for and help you to take the next step towards success.

2. Enhance Your Qualifications

Professional experience counts for a lot when it comes to getting promotions but, if you want to be an effective leader, it’s advantageous to have additional qualifications. By boosting your credentials, you can set yourself apart from other candidates and increase your value in the eyes of employers.

However, obtaining the right qualifications is about more than just adding to your C.V. When you choose the right course, you’ll find that the content and modules you study are highly relevant to your career aspirations. Furthermore, completing a post-graduate qualification can give you the knowledge, insight, and skills you need to succeed in a leadership role.

No matter what sector you work in, there are programs designed to help you achieve your goals. If you work in the business sector, for example, an MBA might give you the edge you need. Alternatively, teachers working in the education sector can fast-track their success by completing an online MA in Education at the University of Exeter. By choosing a program that will give you the skills and knowledge you need at an executive level, you’ll be well-placed to secure leadership roles in your industry.

3. Find a Mentor

A professional mentor can have a big impact on your career and help you to succeed in your chosen sector as an effective leader and manager. After all, if you want to emulate someone’s success, it’s helpful to learn from them directly. You may have already come across someone who acts as an informal mentor and if so, ask if they’d be willing to provide you with more advice and assistance.

Alternatively, commit to finding a mentor who can help you to navigate your industry at a high level. There are a variety of sector-specific mentoring programs that are designed to do just that, so don’t panic if you can’t immediately think of someone you can reach out to. By signing up as a mentee, you can find willing mentors who are able to assist you in reaching your professional goals.

4. Hone Your Commercial Awareness

As a leader, you’ll need to have a broad overview of your sector, instead of a more single-minded approach to your specialism or niche. A Chief Marketing Officer will need to have intricate knowledge of offline and online marketing, for example, but they’ll also need to be aware of non-marketing commercial issues that affect the organisation. Similarly, Executive Headteachers need to be acutely aware of policy and budget changes, in addition to staying up to date with the latest teaching and classroom management strategies.

By honing your commercial awareness and looking at the wider issues that are affecting your sector, you can ensure you’re ready to take on a leadership position. When you’re at the helm, you’ll be tasked with leading your organisation through the marketplace and outperforming your competitors, so it’s vital to have this insight and overview.

5. Identify Barriers to Success

If you’ve been trying to take the next step in your career for some time but have yet to succeed, it’s important to know why. Perhaps you’ve applied for leadership roles in the past and been turned down or maybe you’ve been trying unsuccessfully to secure a promotion. If so, it’s time to bite the bullet and review your performance and feedback to find out what’s holding you back.

Arranging a one-to-one meeting or appraisal with your manager can be a good place to start. As well as informing them of your aspirations and ensuring they’re aware of your professional goals, you can ask them for detailed feedback regarding your performance. In addition to this, your supervisor or manager should be able to tell you what’s been holding you back and why you haven’t been promoted yet.

No one likes receiving criticism, particularly if they feel it’s unfair or unwarranted. However, identifying barriers to success is essential if you want to overcome them. Once you know what’s been preventing you from taking the next step in your career, you’ll be able to address these issues and ensure you’re ready to step up to a leadership role.

What Does Leadership Mean to You?

If you’re often described as a ‘born leader’, reaching the C-suite might seem like a natural progression. However, there are many different leadership styles, so don’t worry if you need to hone some of your skills. Active listening is just important as delegation when you’re in a leadership position, for example.

By taking the time to think about what leadership really means in your industry, you can identify the skills and attributes you may need to polish in order to enhance your performance. Not only will this enable you to be a better leader, but it will also give you the confidence you need to succeed.

About Karli Cowan'

Karli Cowan has for decades been one of the all-too-few women in the automotive industry, and is committed to helping women better negotiate the male-dominated industry.

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