I extracted this from a great book called “Barbarians to Bureaucrats” by Lawrence M. Miller. Consider the lone inventor who becomes a single-proprietor entrepreneur. She needs innovative skills and a monofocus on getting things off the ground. But an entirely different set of skills is needed to grow the business, and yet another set of skills to manage an already going concern. Not everyone makes the transition successfully. Strength at one level has to be augmented with strength for the next level.
Part of the preparation for your next career step is making sure that you understand the skill set required for that next step and that you spend some effort cultivating those skills. Maybe it’s managing a larger group: do some reading and watch good managers. Maybe it’s learning to delegate—authority, not responsibility—a subtle but important difference. Here’s a secret: why you’ve been successful up to this point becomes muscle memory as you move on. You never really forget it even if it might get a little rusty. What's necessary is teaching yourself new things that may not yet be in your toolkit.
Bill Carroll holds a PhD from Indiana University, where he is currently an adjunct professor of chemistry and heads his own company, Carroll Applied Science, consulting for industry and intergovernmental organizations. Bill was ACS President (2005), Chair of the Board (2012-14) and is a Fellow of ACS, AAAS and the Royal Society of Chemistry. He holds two patents, has published four books and has more than 80 publications in the fields of organic electrochemistry, polymer chemistry, combustion chemistry, incineration, plastics recycling… and popular music history and chart analytics.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.