Reasons to step into a leadership role (and the reasons not to) (2023)

Meet Shawn. Shawn is a software engineer considering a leadership role in the future. Shawn loves writing software, but they're noticing a few peers transitioning to a Tech Lead or Engineering Manager role. Should they too? Shawn is unsure about what would change, or even if they'd be good at it.

You might be considering stepping onto the leadership path, but like Shawn you may be unsure about whether you should or not. In this article, we'll explore some good reasons to step into a leadership role and a few not-so-good ones.

Good reasons to seek a leadership role

Those who seek a leadership role for the right reasons will have greater success. They'll see new and challenging tasks as an opportunity to learn, rather than a chore that needs doing. They'll invest more effort in doing an outstanding job rather than coasting on the bare minimum, and they'll be curious to constantly improve rather than pretend they are a master of every leadership skill.

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Here are 5 good reasons to seek a leadership role:

>1. Desire to have more impact

As an individual contributor you have a limited impact. There is only so much time you have and only so much you can do in that time. Your skills and strengths constrain what you are able to do with that time, and you will be better at some activities than others.

As a leader, you have a broader impact because you have more than you: you also have your team, and a high-performing team achieves much more than a single individual can. A team has more time to do work in parallel and benefits from the broader team’s skill set and experiences; where one team member has a gap, another can step in and fill it.

If you seek a leadership role to have more impact, you'll focus less on what you do as an individual. You recognise it's more about what the team can do and how the team works together that matters, and with this attitude you will build high performing teams and lead effectively.

2. An opportunity to build different skills

Leaders draw upon very different skills than individual contributors. The skills you built as a developer will help you write clean, concise, and well-tested code but these skills won't help you navigate difficult conversations. Nor will they prepare you to give effective feedback or influence other stakeholders.

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When you recognise you need to invest in different skills, you'll grow much faster as a leader and you'll even enjoy it because it will be an opportunity to develop in different ways. You'll have the opportunity to learn and practice leadership skills such as active listening, coaching, mentoring, and influencing. As you focus on developing these skills, you'll feel like you grow much more as a person and into a more capable leader.

3. Interest in watching others grow

Some leaders I know started out because they wanted to positively influence others. They saw that when team members grow, their team's impact also grows. They also realised with the support of a great leader people can grow much faster.

When you have an interest in watching others grow, you'll find optimal ways to make it happen and stretch opportunities for team members. These opportunities give team members a chance to try something new but with a safety net. If the team member succeeds they grow and the team benefits from the outcome and their experience, but if a team member fails with this safety net in place, they have a chance to learn and try again.

Leaders who invest in their team members' growth will long be remembered by not only those who benefitted from the team's outputs, but also by the team members who grew.

4. Desire to improve the environment

Some people seek a leadership role because they have ideas to improve the work environment and that's a great leadership habit to have. As Grace Hopper once said, "You manage things and lead people." In software teams, “managing things” means leaders constantly improve the environment for their team.

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Team members are so focused on work, they often don't have time to improve the environment. Good leaders focus on this instead, knowing it’s where they can have leverage. Imagine a team who waits for three or four signatures from external stakeholders to approve work items. Now imagine a leader who agreed with these stakeholders on a streamlined process involving only one person, resulting in the team being able to achieve much more.

Work environments can either empower or constrain how teams work. Leaders who want to improve the environment don't wait for their team to complain but rather proactively search for improvements. These improvements translate into better team morale, better outcomes and a much more effective team.

5. Act as a Role Model

Ever hear the saying, "Do as I say, not as I do"? Here's a common example: a leader asks their team to join meetings on time, but they themselves are often late. We call this incongruent behaviour and it demonstrates ineffective leadership.

Effective leaders know that what they say and what they do matters. Congruent behaviour sends a consistent message to the team about what is important. If you want to be a role model, focus on congruent behaviour and you'll do a much better job than those who don't. As the other old saying goes, "Actions speak louder than words."

Reasons not to seek a leadership role

When someone seeks a leadership role for the following reasons, they are setting themselves and their team up for failure. At best they will become a mediocre leader, and a mediocre leader produces a mediocre team.

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1. Do it for the money

Some people see leadership roles as the only way to make more money. The logic appears sound. A leadership role has more responsibility, therefore the role should make more money, and who doesn't want more money?

When people seek a leadership role for money, they forget it also comes with accountability. This means that it's not enough to have the title. They must also fulfil the additional responsibilities. When money is the motivator the leader will do the bare minimum necessary, and great leaders don't settle for the bare minimum.

2. Do it for the power

I've heard some engineers say, "when I'm the boss, I can finally have it my way." A person with this attitude wants to avoid conflict. They don't want to "waste" time on debates and want to decide on the final outcome. While this may sound ideal as an individual contributor, they're in for a surprise. A leader who always gets their way will never make a great leader as they are exercising control over their team.

A leader controlling their team loses out on the benefits teams bring to the table. When team members don't contribute to building solutions they won't feel committed to the solution. Team members who propose alternative approaches will eventually stop suggesting new ideas if they are constantly ignored or overruled. These team members will eventually find a team who welcomes their ideas and this will most likely be in a different company. Those who stay will never propose improvements and they will never go out of their way to support others who make mistakes. In short, a controlling leader never builds a high performing team.

3. Do it for the fame

Some people seek a leadership role so they can always be in the limelight and they want the opportunity to network with people across the organisation. These types of leaders want to claim their team successes as their own.

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High-performance teams rely on trust and when a leader takes all the glory, they fail to build trust with their team. A greater leader is team-oriented and wants to share the credit, and when they do they earn the admiration and most importantly the trust of team members which is necessary for a leader to be effective.

Look deeply to understand your real reasons

Before seeking out a leadership role Shawn asks a friend for advice. "Do you think I'd make a good leader?" Shawn asks. Their friend replies, "Why do you want to become a leader?" It's a good question that makes Shawn think. After some time, Shawn answers, "I want to be a leader because I want to work on the best team I can. I realise I can make that happen by taking a leadership role."

Your reason for becoming a leader is the difference between becoming a great or a mediocre leader. Before you seek a leadership role, look deeply inside yourself like Shawn. Ask yourself, "What are your true motivations for seeking a leadership role?" If the motivations are one of the right reasons, then you can grow to be the best leader you can be and your team will benefit.

FAQs

What are the 2/3 good reasons why you want to pursue a leadership career? ›

Leaders influence the attitudes and behaviour of their staff. Great leaders are secure in their role and in their ability to do their jobs. They communicate well with their teams and mentor their employees. They make sure they know what their teams need to do their jobs, and meet their own goals.

How do you step into a leadership role? ›

Consider the following steps to assume a leadership role and show your employers your potential as a leader:
  1. Focus on your performance. ...
  2. Cultivate followers. ...
  3. Understand your strengths. ...
  4. Think strategically. ...
  5. Seek mentors. ...
  6. Accept new opportunities. ...
  7. Learn from other leaders. ...
  8. Set goals.
15 Sept 2021

What makes you qualified for a leadership position? ›

Showcase skills and qualities such as patience, active listening, empathy, positivity, reliability and team building. Example: “While communication skills help me to be a good leader, holding myself accountable is essential to lead by example.

What is your weakness best answer? ›

Answer “what is your greatest weakness” by choosing a skill that is not essential to the job you're applying to and by stressing exactly how you're practically addressing your weakness. Some skills that you can use as weaknesses include impatience, multitasking, self-criticism, and procrastination.

Why would you be a good fit for this position? ›

For starters, I have all the skills and experience listed in the job description, and I'm confident that I can make an immediate impact on your company. It's not just my background in leading successful projects for Fortune 500 companies, but also my passion for the industry that drives me to succeed.

Why do you want to become part of the team? ›

I see this opportunity as a way to contribute to an exciting/forward-thinking/fast-moving company/industry, and I feel I can do so by/with my …” “I feel my skills are particularly well-suited to this position because …” “I believe I have the type of knowledge to succeed in this role and at the company because …”

How do I sell myself for a leadership position? ›

Begin by adopting strategies that amplify your existing personal brand.
  1. Explore your voice. Good leaders are reliable and expressive communicators, whether in one-to-one situations or while giving speeches to hundreds. ...
  2. Upskill yourself—and your tribe. ...
  3. Spotlight your expertise. ...
  4. Request feedback.
21 Jun 2019

Why should you want to be a leader? ›

You want to be a leader because a leader is, above all, a motivator. Leaders generate team morale and focus on objectives. They are a crucial part of success in almost any industry.

How do you transition to a new role? ›

We've put together five easy steps to ensure the transition into your new role is as smooth as possible:
  1. Anticipate challenges. The first few weeks of any new job are always difficult, and even seasoned professionals admit starting over is tough. ...
  2. Accept a mentor. ...
  3. Be prepared to adjust. ...
  4. Don't be afraid to learn. ...
  5. Have fun.

What should I say in a leadership interview? ›

Tips for answering leadership interview questions
  • Situation: Start by establishing the situation and sharing any important details.
  • Task: Recount your specific task or responsibility.
  • Action: Describe, step by step, what you did to address the task or responsibility.
  • Result: End with the impact of your actions.
16 Aug 2022

What is your strength and weakness best answer? ›

I am very honest. When I feel that my workload is too large to accept another task, or if I don't understand something, I always let my supervisor know. My people skills are my greatest strength. I find it easy to connect with almost anyone, and I often know how to empathize with others in an appropriate way.

What can you bring to the leadership team? ›

Examples of qualities that you could bring to the job include:
  • Determination.
  • Friendliness.
  • Flexibility.
  • Dependability.
  • Honesty.
  • Sincerity.
  • Trustworthy.
  • Reasonable.

What are your top 3 weaknesses answer? ›

List of Weaknesses for Job Interview
  • Lack of Patience.
  • Lack of Organization.
  • Trouble with Delegation.
  • Timidity.
  • Lack of Tactfulness.
  • Fear of Public Speaking.
  • Weak Data Analysis Skills.
  • Indecisiveness.
14 Dec 2021

What are 3 good weaknesses in a job interview? ›

Examples of weaknesses on the job
  • Inexperience with specific software or a non-essential skill.
  • Tendency to take on too much responsibility.
  • Nervousness about public speaking.
  • Hesitancy about delegating tasks.
  • Discomfort taking big risks.
  • Impatience with bureaucracies.
13 Dec 2021

What are examples of weaknesses? ›

Some common examples of weaknesses for a job interview answer include:
  • Self-critical.
  • Too sensitive.
  • Overly competitive.
  • Perfectionist.
  • Stubborn.
  • Disorganized.
  • Uncomfortable delegating tasks.
  • Takes on too much work at once.

How do you lead a team with no experience? ›

Here are some examples of things you can use to make your first leadership position a great experience from day one:
  1. Know yourself and your organization. ...
  2. Share your assets. ...
  3. Value and practice transparency. ...
  4. Schedule regular one-on-one meetings. ...
  5. Recognize great work. ...
  6. Focus on team performance. ...
  7. Learn to delegate.
2 Jun 2022

What makes you stand out from other candidates? ›

These can be professional skills, areas of expertise, personal qualities, or any relevant experience. Also, consider any impressive accomplishments from your past or career goals that speak to your commitment to the field. Think of ways to out-do the other candidates.

What can you bring to the company? ›

Think about: your enthusiasm for the profession and the employer and your desire to make your mark. your personal qualities, such as your drive and willingness to learn. the skills the employer seeks and how you have demonstrated them in the past – your answer should show why you would be competent in the job.

Why do you deserve to be part of our team answer? ›

Show that you have skills and experience to do the job and deliver great results. You never know what other candidates offer to the company. But you know you: emphasize your key skills, strengths, talents, work experience, and professional achievements that are fundamental to getting great things done on this position.

How do you handle stress and pressure? ›

2. Commit to a Positive Attitude
  1. Decide what you can do. Pinpoint which parts of the situation you have the power to change or influence for the better. ...
  2. Get support. Find someone to talk to about your situation. ...
  3. Care for yourself. Take especially good care of yourself when stress in your life is high.

What appeals to you about this position? ›

Example: My previous experience and success would help me to achieve some quick wins in certain areas, including XXX. I'm also excited at the prospect of learning more about XXX. The company's mission aligns with my own professional values and I believe I'd be a great fit culturally.

Why are you interested in this position? ›

Example: "I'm interested in this job because I can see that, in this role, my skills could help solve this problem within your company. I also see an opportunity for me to learn and grow these skills, so we both would benefit personally, professionally, and financially.

Why should I hire you as a team leader? ›

When hiring a team leader, look for ​​strong leadership skills, excellent communication skills, conflict management and resolution skills and approachability. Great candidates for your team leader role may also have integrity and humility and the ability to innovate and inspire.

Why do you want this position? ›

Mention any skills or work experience that makes you a unique, strong candidate for the job. If possible, use numbers to express how you can add value to the business. For example, if you saved your previous company a certain amount of money, mention this, and say that you want to do the same for this company.

Why would you be a good fit for this position? ›

For starters, I have all the skills and experience listed in the job description, and I'm confident that I can make an immediate impact on your company. It's not just my background in leading successful projects for Fortune 500 companies, but also my passion for the industry that drives me to succeed.

How do you answer what skills can you bring to this role? ›

Explain How Your Skills Qualify You For the Job

You can answer this question in two parts. First, explain what the attribute is and how you have demonstrated it in the past (or how you currently demonstrate it in your workplace). Then, explain why that skill makes you uniquely qualified to work for the company.

What can you bring to the company? ›

Think about: your enthusiasm for the profession and the employer and your desire to make your mark. your personal qualities, such as your drive and willingness to learn. the skills the employer seeks and how you have demonstrated them in the past – your answer should show why you would be competent in the job.

What makes you stand out from the other candidates? ›

7 ways to stand out from the crowd
  • Add a personal touch. ...
  • Do your research. ...
  • Start doing the job already. ...
  • Make use of your other skills and experience. ...
  • Show your creativity. ...
  • Show some grit and resilience. ...
  • Demonstrate a growth mindset.

What is the most important values you demonstrate as a leader? ›

Core values of a leader make for great leadership

Empower and development. Vision. Communication. Reinforcement and influence.

How do you introduce yourself in a leadership interview? ›

Work History in a Nutshell

Start by briefly introducing your professional story. Outline your experience, showing a trajectory from early career until now. Keep the focus on your current or most recent position—where you can speak directly to your proficiency as a leader – and stay away from personal details.

How do you handle stress and pressure? ›

2. Commit to a Positive Attitude
  1. Decide what you can do. Pinpoint which parts of the situation you have the power to change or influence for the better. ...
  2. Get support. Find someone to talk to about your situation. ...
  3. Care for yourself. Take especially good care of yourself when stress in your life is high.

What is your strength and weakness best answer? ›

I am very honest. When I feel that my workload is too large to accept another task, or if I don't understand something, I always let my supervisor know. My people skills are my greatest strength. I find it easy to connect with almost anyone, and I often know how to empathize with others in an appropriate way.

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