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Five questions to ask yourself when deciding whether a management career path is right for you

Written by
Rose Smith
Published on
January 11, 2024

In today's dynamic and ever-evolving professional landscape, individuals often find themselves at a crossroads: Should they focus on becoming an expert in their field or pursue a leadership role within their organization? The decision between these two career paths can profoundly impact one's personal and professional development as it highlights how different people have different strengths, goals, and aspirations. Understanding the nuances of both expertise and leadership paths is crucial for making informed career decisions. 

Last November, we had an insightful discussion with accomplished professionals and thought leaders to explore the nuances of choosing between expertise and leadership. We heard from Diana Bonczar (Internal Communications Consultant and Trainer & Co-Founder at Inko Club), , Michaela Malatín (Senior Tech Program Manager at RedHat), Milos Djurkovic (Managing Partner at Amrop Serbia), and Matteo Pescarin (Senior Engineering Manager at Choco). 

Our conversation delved into the motivations, considerations, and opportunities individuals face as they make these critical career decisions and progress. From our discussion, we fleshed out five key things to consider when deciding if a management career path is right for you.

1. Do you have clarity in what kind of job and daily tasks you would like to have?

As Michaela mentioned during the discussion, deciding whether to take on a leadership role boils down to what kind of job you would like to have. Sometimes, it only requires that you look at the job description, requirements and career path of a position and check with yourself whether they resonate with you. 

2. Do you only want the title, or are you actually equipped with the leadership skills?

Milos shared that the struggle between ambition and capability exists within us. With this in mind, Matteo stressed the importance of personal growth when taking on a leadership position. He shared that just because you have a high level of competence in your technical skills doesn’t mean you are equipped to be a leader. 

3. Do you have a passion for working with and guiding people?

As Milos stressed, passion is important in whatever you do. He defines a leader as someone who enjoys working with and guiding people. Leaders are passionate about developing the people they work with to reach their goals. However, this does not mean you must go for a C-level position. As Michaela stressed, being a leader in your team can sometimes be more rewarding than taking on a C-level leadership role.

4. Are you letting social expectations play a role in your decision-making?

Our family and social circles may influence our decisions. Diana stressed the importance of reflecting on whether these expectations and pressure push you towards taking on a leadership role even though you may not be ready or do not want to. Resisting the pressure if you are hesitant saves you all the stress that awaits.

5. Have you tried out smaller leadership roles to determine whether you enjoy leading?

If you're on the fence about taking on a leadership role, Michaela advises to try it out through smaller projects such as a CSR project in your company or even a volunteer role. This will allow you to not only gain leadership skills but also find out whether you enjoy the position or not.

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