Tell ’em to start a club!

If I had a nickel for every person who has asked me for advice about how to move into management, I’d be rich! Well, not really. I’d probably have enough to buy myself lunch. But, the point is that I’ve been asked about it a lot. Here’s what happens: someone applies for a first level managerial position, but are told they need experience managing people before they will be considered. Of course, they can’t get people management experience unless they are given the opportunity. It’s a catch-22.

One piece of advice I often give in this situation is to offer to manage an intern. Many leaders would be happy to delegate managing an intern to someone without management experience, as it creates an opportunity for career growth while relieving them of some work.

I also started thinking about how high school students create opportunities to learn management skills. Not too long ago, I attended an open house for an independent high school near our home. At the event, students told us about why they chose to go to the school,  their favorite class, and their extra curricular activities. Each student was the founder and president of a club…the modern dance club, an a cappella group, a creative writing club…the list went on and on.

By starting clubs, these students were learning valuable leadership skills while demonstrating initiative, meeting new people, creating an opportunity to be seen as a leader by other students, and generating visibility with teachers who can write recommendations and make introductions. Plus they were doing something they enjoyed. A win-win situation all around!

Clubs are also a great way for employees to build their leadership brand. I’ve seen it first hand over my career; I’ve started a book club for program managers, and I’ve sponsored a book club for women’s leadership. Based on my experience, I wrote a free publication with practical tips for starting a club at work:

Karen’s Tip: Start a Club

If you know someone who wants to develop leadership skills, or are interested in creating an opportunity for yourself, be sure to check it out.


© 2013 by Karen Catlin. All rights reserved.

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