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Ask Linda: Advancing Your Career

While there are specific skills needed to be an effective manager, there are also mental attitudes or mindsets that aspiring managers need to develop

by Lab Manager
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Dear Linda,

I have been managing the same lab for nearly 10 years. While I enjoy the work, the company I work for, and my staff and colleagues, I am beginning to think about taking the next step on my career path. There are opportunities to move up in my organization, but I’m not sure how best to proceed. Can you offer up any suggestions for how to best prepare for a higher level position within the company? Thanks,

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Dear Denise,

While there are specific skills needed to be an effective manager, there are also mental attitudes or mindsets that aspiring managers need to develop. Specific proficiencies such as oral communication and time management skills are not enough without cultivating these broader mindsets, which require that you:

  • Develop an external focus beyond your company to include your industry, your suppliers, and your customers. This is necessary to identify business opportunities and competitive challenges.
  • Adopt a commercial mindset. You need to be involved in identifying commercial opportunities and working back from these opportunities to develop and prioritize laboratory activities that deliver value. This means understanding how your employer makes money within and across its businesses.
  • Deliver results by motivating people to succeed, tracking performance, and rewarding success.
  • Provide speed in all of the above by making effective decisions in a timely manner, removing barriers to timely action, and managing risk.
  • Strive for simplicity by eliminating activities that add unnecessary costs and do not deliver commercial value.

Your challenge for moving up the career ladder is not about implementing new techniques, business practices, or technology, but in understanding your role in the larger business enterprise.

Good luck.