New Level? New Mindset!: Uplevel Your Leadership Identity

career advancement Mar 27, 2024

TLDR: As you move into new opportunities there are things you leave behind, there are things you take with you and things you have to add. By "things" I mean: skill sets, perspectives, identity.  You leave "things" behind to create bandwidth for adding what you need to succeed in the new position.

As some of you know, I spend part of my year in Puerto Rico and part of my year on the mainland. Tomorrow I'm headed back to the mainland.

That means I'm in the midst of my leaving and going decisions.

 What do I leave behind?

And what do I take when I go?


You might be wondering, what the heck does this have to do with women's career advancement?

Well, it specifically ties to career progression, whether you're moving up the ladder or whether you're moving laterally. Whenever you move, there are things that are important to leave behind and things that are important to take with you.

So let's talk about  leaving  and going. The implications for career moves are most easily understood in the context of advancement.  But they will also translate into lateral opportunities that require you to expand your skill set in order to be successful.

From Individual Contributor to Supervisor

When you make the transition from individual contributor to supervisor, what you leave behind is the doing. Because as a supervisor, your main responsibility is to equip, empower and enable a collection of individual contributors who are doing the doing.

To leave behind the doing is very hard because it's comfortable and it's what you're known for, but you must because leave it. It's the only way to meet the requirement that you add to your skill set of doing, the skill sets for equipping and empowering the individual contributors who report to you to be as successful or even more successful than you were.

This involves interpersonal and team skills that you didn't have to demonstrate or utilize as an individual contributor. For example, you add the capabilities of coaching, training, giving feedback, aligning the team to key outcomes, delivering progress measures and you might be adding project management, et cetera.

In order to create the bandwidth for adding those new skills, you're leaving behind the doing.  As you go into your new position, you are taking with you the knowledge about the doing in order that you can equip and enable and empower your reporting team members.

From Supervisor to Manager

When you make the transition from supervisor to manager, it most often means that you have a team of supervisors reporting to you.  So what do you leave behind?  You leave behind the  equipping, enabling and empowering of individual contributors in order to equip, empower and enable the success of your reporting supervisors.

This is different than doing your supervisory work with individual contributors, because you are no longer interacting with individual contributors.  You are Interacting with supervisors whose leadership skills need to be developed. 

  • You need to make sure that they have the interpersonal and team skills required to motivate their teams.
  • You need to make sure they have the business savvy required to align their teams to the organization.
  • The metrics by which their performance is measured will be different than the metrics by which individual contributors performance is measured. 

You're adding layers of capability. Now you're beginning to equip, empower and enable leadership skills, not the doing.

You do that by leaving behind time spent working with individual contributors. Again, it's hard to do.  You grew comfortable and you were successful supervising individual contributors. If not, you wouldn't have earned this new opportunity.

And On...

And so it goes as you progress up the organization.

The leaving and the going. What you leave behind in order to expand your capabilities.  And what you take with you.

Let's Recap

Whenever you make a career transition, whether it's a lateral move across your latticework career or whether it's a vertical climb up the organizational ladder, give thought in your planning for how you will  spend your first three months to what will be important for you to:

  • Leave behind,
  • Take with you,
  • And what it is that you will be adding to your skill set as you grow the lustrous pearl that is the ambitious woman that you are.

This is a much bigger topic and I want to give you the full picture.  So, here's a link to download an illustrative table of the ways leadership differs by level:

Catch you next time,


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