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How to Transition from Technical Lead to Senior Laboratory Leader

How to Transition from Technical Lead to Senior Laboratory Leader

Here are five essential tips to help you land your first senior leadership role

Moving into a senior leadership role is a big career step. It may have been your goal for years, but you don’t know where or how to make the leap from being the go-to person for troubleshooting quality control failures, instrument issues, and erratic test results to being a senior laboratory leader. As you’re getting ready for a promotion to senior management, you’ll need a game plan. Here are five essential tips to help you land your first senior leadership role.

1. Perform a self-assessment

To plan where you are going, you need to know where you are starting from. Understanding your strengths and limitations will provide you with potential areas for growth. You know that you have the technical aptitude because you have done that with increasing levels of responsibility, but what about in other areas of the laboratory? The good news is that you don’t have to know it all or be strong in everything. That’s why you have a team.

2. Strengthen your leadership capabilities

Success depends on your ability to make the right calls and implement the right strategy. It’s about being able to see the big picture. Getting promoted into a senior laboratory leadership role requires you to think critically. Like a captain of a cruise ship, you will chart your course while middle managers and technical leads remain in the weeds of managing the day-to-day. 

While getting promoted is the end goal, managing people for the first time can be intimidating, but there are a few basic skills you can master to get started, including learning to delegate, giving praise, setting clear expectations, developing financial acumen, and practicing active listening. 

3. Become an expert communicator

Being an expert communicator is not about you! It’s about the people who receive your message. To successfully communicate at the senior leadership level, you need to become good at connecting with your team and stakeholders at various levels of the organization through verbal and nonverbal communication. When you enhance your communication, you become more collaborative, your influence increases, and your team sees that you care.

4. Nurture relationships and build trust

This area is often overlooked since it’s difficult to measure, but relationships and trust are necessary to succeed in a senior management role. When employees feel valued and trust you as their leader, they will work harder and be more engaged. Take the time to get to know your team even if it is just checking in and rounding with them 15 minutes a day.

5. Invest in mentorship

Mentorship is the quickest way to accelerate your learning in a new role. Getting feedback, ongoing coaching, and wisdom from someone who’s either already performing in the role you desire or one level up will help you fast track core leadership competencies. Mentorship will provide you access to opportunities that you may not have been privy to in the past, information to decrease your leadership mishaps, and influence to help build your confidence and competence.

Becoming a senior leader is more than a title. It’s an achievement that comes from dedication, gaining relevant skills and experience, and a commitment to lifelong learning. If you are intentional about following these five tips, you will get promoted to a senior leader in no time.