Situation 45: Second guessing one self

In a face-to-face meeting Boss is requesting Betsy to replace Mansy during his leave of absence. Betsy is obviously flattered by the request but also doubts whether she is ready for this responsibility. She asks whether maybe Billy would be a more logical choice.

(Click on the pictures to see them in full size)

A great leader:

  • Is self-confident and readily seeks and accepts new challenges;
  • Looks for opportunities to grow and develop her capabilities;
  • Seeks help from others to enable her to succeed.

How to best handle the situation:

If you are invited to step up and take on new responsibility, this is because you are seen as someone with the capabilities required to succeed at this level. Of course, it may also be a test to see how well you perform in new situations, however, this is borne out of a belief that you have potential. If you are ambitious and want to move up in your career you should welcome the new challenge with open arms.

Treat this interim assignment as you would any new job: understand what the expectations are of you in the role, be clear on the goals, objectives and priorities you need to deliver on, meet with key stakeholders in your new capacity. It is probable that you will be working with the same people as you did before this assignment, so it is vital that you act at your new higher level and communicate to your colleagues that you are in a different role with different demand than previously. Take the time to establish new working arrangements with your colleagues and any direct reports you may now have.

It can be daunting stepping into a higher-level position, so it is worth enlisting some support – a coach or mentor – who can help you navigate the new complexities of your role and transition to act at the level commensurate with your new responsibilities.

Schedule some 1:1’s with your (new) line manager to review your progress and take steps to ensure that you stay on course.

Learning suggestions:

  • If you are seeking promotion, people are more likely to award that to you if they already think of you as operating at that level. Take time to know the accountabilities of the role(s) that you aspire to and start to assume/volunteer for some responsibilities related to these.
  • Observe how your seniors, particularly, those whom you admire dress, talk, behave etc., and try to emulate them.
  • Get exposure to more senior levels in the organization to learn about how work gets done, the decisions that are taken etc. – request shadowing opportunities, volunteer to sit on cross-functional steering groups, contribute to discussion groups and fora etc.
  • Work with a mentor, who is a seasoned professional, whom you admire, to learn more about your area of expertise and the organization and develop your capabilities to a higher level.


  • Volunteer to join a high, visibility project or sit on a committee that gives you a different perspective of your organization.

 Femcommunity tips:

We welcome your thoughts, experiences and comments on how you would deal with such a situation.

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