I remember when I was little… I thought that I want to work at a place like my Mom does when I grow up (She worked for General Foods and had a whole room of all the toys that went into the cereal boxes…heaven for little children!) This was in the days before the internet, so you didn’t have the access to information like people do today. Most people looked to a family member to see what they did or they may have seen a role on television that they aspired to be someday.
However, I truly don’t ever remember saying ” I want to grow up and be a leader!” I didn’t really understand what the concept of being a leader meant, but once I started working I do remember thinking that I would like to do what “the leadership people” were doing. (That sounds funny as I write that…”the leadership people” like they are from some other place!) I knew that meant working hard and putting in my time to do a good job. I was young and naïve at the time. I didn’t truly understand what it would take to be a good leader and climb the ladder.
Reading this article by Robbie Bach https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-youre-never-ready-leader-robbie-bach about why you’re never ready to be a leader brought me back to some of the key leadership moments in my career. Thinking about when I got my first team to lead, leading a global program, leading an entire technical infrastructure team and the lessons that each one of those experiences taught me. I look back now and realize that although I thought I was ready, I still had a lot to learn.
That is what I love about leadership though. You can take on stretch assignments and learn so much about yourself as a leader through each experience. You can take those lessons into the next assignment by applying the positive ones and leaving the mistakes behind you. Each new experience is an opportunity for a clean slate to do things differently. Challenging yourself to try things that are out of your comfort zone is how you grow and develop your leadership. Although you may not fully be ready for any new assignment, trust in your experience and have confidence in your leadership to find success.
(Side note: Through acquisitions by Philip Morris, where General Foods and Kraft became one food company, I did end up working for the same company as my Mom!)