Do You Really Want to Lead? Or Do You Just Want the Raise and Title?

by Pranav Ramesh
July 15, 2020
Leadership motivation: money or ambition?

You’ve done a stellar job. You’ve proven your skills and abilities. You’ve earned the respect of your peers and have shown you have what it takes to excel in your role. The natural order of the business world seems to dictate that you should be promoted.

But do you want to?

The answer may not be clear cut.

There are many obvious benefits to being promoted. The increase in salary. The added prestige and better title. The future opportunities that suddenly open up. However, many don’t consider the possible downsides to following that traditional career path.

Responsibilities change

Leading a team puts you in a position of great accountability. Regardless of what happens, how it happens, or who it happens because of, it’s your responsibility. When something goes poorly, a deadline is missed or the app doesn’t function as intended, it may not be your fault. It may not be your team’s fault. It may not even be your company or organization’s fault. However, it’s up to you to remedy it.

As a developer, even when working in a highly collaborative and team-centric environment, you can always fall back on yourself. If everything went wrong, you could always rewrite, debug, and test the code yourself. As a leader, you don’t have that luxury. Your successes and failures are dependent on your team. This constant state of vulnerability isn’t a position everyone is comfortable being in.

Relationships change

If you’re promoted, your relationships with your current peers will inevitably change. Some may be excited and cheer you on while others may become jealous or resentful. Regardless of what that change looks like, you need to be prepared for the changes in the relationships.

The day will likely come when you are expected to hold your former peer, possibly even your friend, accountable in some way shape or form. Accountability discussions can be uncomfortable enough as it is. Adding a previous relationship into the mix just adds a layer of difficulty to the already challenging conversation.

RELATED: How Leaders Build Trust?


Work hours change

With the increased responsibility comes an increased expectation of how much time you work. In order to truly lead a team, you have to be both present and available when your team needs you, not when it’s convenient for you. This may very well be much earlier in the day than you’re used to, or later than you previously worked, or both. Your typical Monday through Friday, 9AM to 5PM schedule is just that… typical. Leaders cannot clock in and clock out

In many industries, this requires being on-call nearly 24/7. Hopefully, you build a high-performing, self-sufficient team that knows how to answer each other’s questions, help one another, and/or learn for themselves. But no matter how efficient they are, there will be times that they need you, especially when things go wrong. Accidents and mistakes don’t follow a schedule so, when they arise, you will be required to solve them.

Tasks change

Chances are good that you do what you do because you enjoy it. If you didn’t enjoy it, you likely wouldn’t do it for long and definitely wouldn’t excel at it. It’s extremely difficult, if not impossible, to excel at something you don’t love doing. But if you take that promotion, that thing that you love doing changes both drastically and immediately.

Rather than writing code, you’ll be writing performance reviews and executive summaries. You’ll be problem-solving large-scale business initiatives instead of debugging software that you helped develop. You’ll be finding ways to motivate people to do things, and not able to program the actions yourself. The day-to-day tasks, jobs, and projects you’ll actually do are less about the technologies and more about the people, the vision, and the business. Not everyone is ready and willing to drastically change what they spend their days doing so dramatically.

RELATED: Three Leadership Skills That Can Get You Promoted


Do you really want to lead?

Being offered a promotion is exciting. It’s something you’ve worked for, you’ve earned, and should be proud of. Though it may be tempting to accept the offer with a resounding “yes” there are many factors you should take into careful consideration. Much more than just your title and salary is about to change.

Many IT consultants and managers alike assume that high-performing technicians will follow the normal path. While it’s a great opportunity for many it’s not necessarily the right one for everyone. Carefully consider the changes listed above before you make a final, life-altering decision. Will it truly make you happier?

If, at the end of the day, you’d prefer to be a rockstar coder, an elite network administrator, or a top-tier analyst going forward, don’t be afraid to say so!

Join Nick, Rick, and Tulika for episode 4 of

Careers and Conversations:

Journey to the C-Suite

Part 2

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