When we embark on a career, we usually do so with the aim of working our way to the top of our chosen field. In the early days it is easy to think that you just need to keep working your way up the ladder to achieve the end result of being a leader in your field. The reality however, is that at times you need to take sideways moves on the way to the top. To truly be an effective leader you need to be able to have a holistic view of the company you work for. The only way to gain that insight is to move sideways into other areas and truly immerse yourself in the running of the business.
Sideways moves not only benefit you in the long term but also in the short term both personally and professionally. On a professional level it can give you access to areas where you can learn additional skills that you wouldn’t normally have exposure to, which in the end makes you a much more valuable employee in the long term.
On a personal level, a sideways move might be wise to allow you to meet the work-life balance you need at a particular time in your life. You will still gain additional skills within the company, thereby providing you with continuity of employment and showing your long-term dedication to the company you work for.
One of the other benefits of moving sideways is that you are exposed to people you may not have had the opportunity to work with. This may be a supervisor or leader in another area who you would benefit from working with but normally wouldn’t have had the chance. The opportunity to be mentored by a great leader is not always one that comes your way so if it takes a sideways step to achieve that then it should be embraced. Yes, leaders can be peers; they aren’t always a level ahead of you.
Sideways moves doesn’t always refer to within your own company. At times it may be necessary to take a sideways step across to another company to gain the necessary skills or qualifications you would need to be a leader in your field. Sometimes moving into a comparative role at another organisation can give you a new outlook and view on your industry and help you in your journey upwards.
Ultimately, on the path to the top, nothing is set in concrete. It is important to remain flexible and open to new opportunities and pathways. Allowing yourself to absorb all facets of the industry will give you the added edge on your way to the top of the leader and give you the skillset to become a truly great leader.
Where are you in your career plans at the moment? If you aren’t progressing up the ladder as quickly as you’d hoped, perhaps you should consider expanding your skillset with a sideways move. Believe me; it’s just as exciting and challenging as any promotion!