Career Advancement

Here's How to Tell If You're Ready for More Responsibility at Work

The first step toward a bigger role at work is wanting one.
Here's How to Tell If You're Ready for More Responsibility at Work
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At some point during your corporate-ladder climbing, if you’re at all ambitious and looking for the next challenge, you’ll probably peer upwards at the topmost rungs and think to yourself, I could do that.

But are you really ready to start your own business or join the C-suite? Are you truly ready to be the boss, or at least to take on a new role with increased responsibilities? While every case is in some ways unique, a few commonalities among ambitious professionals may help you figure out if you’re ready to take the next step and seek that corner office.

1. You’re on top of your game.

If you’re confident about your skills and you consistently produce the right results at work, then you might be ready to move on. However, people tend to make errors in our self-assessments. If you feel uncertain about evaluating your skill level, look to other signs:

  • Coworkers and colleagues in your field approach you with technical and theoretical questions …  and you have the answers.

  • Your manager frequently says something like “We need to achieve this specific result, no margin for error” … and then assigns the job to you.

  • If given the same task to complete as a colleague with equivalent experience, you’d finish first … then start looking around for something else to do.

  • You find yourself looking at people in positions higher than yours on the organizational chart, thinking, I could do that.

Even if you’re not ready to take on the CFO position, you may be ready at least for a greater level of responsibility when it comes to budgeting.

Related: 13 Behaviors That Prevent You From Moving Up in Your Career

2. You daydream about being in charge and leading the way.

Sure, daydreaming isn’t necessarily a great indicator of skill, but it does indicate desire, and desire is a significant part of the battle.  

The key thing to look at is whether you find meaning or fulfillment in those daydreams. If so, it’s a clear indicator that you’re eager for a bigger role at work.

Of course, you’ll have to move beyond the realm of fantasy if you really want that desire to become a reality. Your next step is to identify exactly what kind of role you want to assume next, then create a realistic plan to get there.

Related: You are Creative & Smarter, if You're Daydreaming at Work

3. You're on good terms with employees at all levels of your company.

Positive relationship building skills are important for everyone, of course, but they’re critical at higher levels in a company. Leadership requires working well and building rapport with workers at all levels on the organization chart.

People skilled at building rapport and relationships with others typically find themselves being approached as informal mediators in others’ disputes. They may also find themselves frequently being named by teammates as a team leader, whether in an official or de facto manner.

If that sounds familiar to you, and you're comfortable striking up conversations with a wide variety of your coworkers at different levels on the organizational chart, then you probably have the kind of strong interpersonal skills that natural leaders possess.

Related: 14 Proven Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills

4. You’ve done well when given leadership opportunities.

Practical leadership experience is an obvious sign of readiness, assuming you achieved some measure of success with a team project or goal. Whether at work or in outside endeavors, being designated the leader means that someone in charge saw you as leadership material, and you rose to the challenge.

Being appointed leader by a manager or other superior at work may also indicate that upper management is considering you for a more permanent leadership position or promotion, by the way. If your immediate supervisor or departmental manager exhibit trust and faith in your abilities, then you may want to make some outward demonstration of your interest in a change.

Related: 3 Leadership Lessons I Learned Training Horses

5. You feel constrained by your current job description.

If you start to feel annoyed or constrained by your day-to-day job, or if you find yourself looking for ways to add to or change up your workday, it’s often an indicator that it’s a good time to consider seeking a more permanent change, such as a promotion.

One way to turn this irritation into a path forward is to look around your workplace until you find something your manager usually does that you could take off their plate. Once you’ve identified that task, suggest to your manager that they delegate that task to you on a trial basis. Mention that you’ve been eager to take on more responsibility and engage in new challenges at work. A good manager will take that sort of disclosure from an employee very seriously and will do whatever they can to accommodate the employee, which can eventually lead to that promotion.

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