Ready Up!

Is next-level leadership in your career vision?

Ready up!

Sponsors advocate when you are not in the room, and mentors provide valuable insight based on their experience. Equally essential is your assessing your readiness for next-level leadership. 

Having the relevant knowledge, experience, and expertise in your field or industry is a starting point. Heightened self-awareness and self-management are next in line.

Assessing your effectiveness in certain leadership behaviors is a fast start to readying for greater responsibility.

Five Selected Leadership Behaviors

The following is a select list of leadership behaviors. Consider your  strengths and areas of opportunity as you prepare for your next-level leadership opportunity:


When you project confidence in your abilities and decisions, that inspires others to have confidence in you. Delaying decision-making, second-guessing your decisions, deferring responsibility for decision outcomes to someone else, or using minimizing phrases and behaviors could erode the confidence others have in your capabilities, potentially spurring a downward spiral in the confidence you have in yourself.

Minimize or Avoid these Phrases or Behaviors

  • Using phrases like “You might consider” or “Have you considered.” Instead, be direct in presenting your thoughts or ideas.
  • Ending a statement in a question mark. Be definitive in your message and leave no questions about your communications.
  • Apologizing unnecessarily or excessively. Extend a sincere apology, when necessary, being specific about what the apology covers.
  • Devaluing or minimizing your work or compliments extended to you. Accurately state what you have accomplished without altering the impact, and graciously accept a compliment with a simple “thank you.”
  • Providing vague responses to questions, appearing indecisive. Assess the situation, frame your answer, and own your perspective.
Remember that good work sometimes needs a voice – and that voice is yours.

Emotional Intelligence

Demonstrating understanding and empathy for what others experience, their concerns and views can connect you with others on a personal level. People want to feel seen and heard. It is crucial to empathize yet leave a margin for them to own and manage their situations and outcomes as you provide support appropriately.

Vision and Goal-Oriented

Before advancing to the next level, consider your vision of greatness for the future. Consider what you want to accomplish in your life, professionally and personally. Consider five, ten, and 15 years from now. Answer these questions:

  • What will you have accomplished?
  • What are you doing differently than you are doing now in your career?
  • What is bringing you joy in your life? In your career?
  • How does this next-level opportunity support your vision?

Doing this work for yourself prepares you to nurture an environment of continuous learning and professional development for those you lead.

Effective Communications

Whether holding the primary space in verbal communications or facilitating a discussion, ensure to convey thoughts and ideas clearly while actively listening. As the situation allows, invite others to openly share their views, listening to connect rather than listening to respond.

Take a quick self-check of your active listening habits using the following:

Effective Listening HabitYesNo
1. I tune out distractions (multi-tasking, texting, phone calls, daydreaming, etc.) when listening.  
2.   I allow the speaker to express complete thoughts without interruption.  
3.   I restate or paraphrase essential details during the conversation to confirm my understanding.  
4.   I don’t assume or jump to conclusions.  
5.   I listen for ideas, not just for facts.  
6.   I remain poised and emotionally controlled when a speaker’s views differ from my views.  
7.   I actively try to retain essential facts, including taking relevant notes.  
8.   I listen to detect any hidden meanings for what is not said.  
9.   I ask open-ended questions to invite conversation.  
10. I demonstrate a genuine interest in the other person’s message.  

Use your responses to determine your development opportunity.


Change and challenges happen. Unexpected “opportunities” can test fortitude, stress tolerance, and adaptability. Rebounding from setbacks, maintaining composure under pressure, and adapting to changing circumstances while inspiring your staff to shift directions and remain fully engaged to achieve business goals are essential to effective leadership.

Ready Up Action

While the above leadership behaviors are not an all-inclusive list, they are capabilities that can differentiate your readiness for next-level leadership.

Build muscle in these behaviors and use them to your competitive advantage.

If you do not exhibit these behaviors at the desired level, you can develop these skills as you grow your leadership capabilities.

You don’t have to go it alone. Schedule a complimentary consultation for support.

Check out other leadership and career-related articles.

Lillian Davenport, SPHR, SHRM – SCP, CTACC, Principal, End View Solutions, LLC

Lillian Davenport is a coach, consultant, and women’s leadership strategist. Her leadership program, Maximize Her LeadershipSM, guides women in bringing together their talents, strengths, and executive presence to experience a thriving career.

Lillian’s career as a human resources leader includes roles at JPMorgan Chase & Co., Woodforest National Bank, and American International Group, Inc. (AIG), where she leveraged employee relations, and diversity, equity, and inclusion expertise in leadership development.