It is a truth universally acknowledged that many business leaders start their careers as apprentices. But one thing we don’t talk about enough is how apprentices can take on leadership roles during their apprenticeship programme.
In this blog, we’ll set the record straight and prove that apprenticeships and leadership make an ideal combination.
What Are Leadership Skills?
To define leadership in one sentence: a good leader is someone who can influence a team and facilitate actions to successfully achieve a common goal.
One of the biggest misconceptions about leadership is that you have to be a manager to lead people. Great leaders make good managers, but you don’t need the title to start demonstrating leadership skills.
By this, we’re not talking about marching around the office telling people what to do. Practicing leadership is more about refining your communication and organisation skills.
Leadership encompasses everything from using your initiative to project management, good communication, making strong decisions, and being a role model to others. These are all skills that you can work on as you move through your apprenticeship.
Take Initiative as an Apprentice
If there’s one thing that holds many apprentices back, it’s being uncertain about putting forward new ideas. Sometimes you might feel that you’re â€œonly an apprenticeâ€ but by putting yourself and your ideas down, you’re limiting your opportunities.
Never be afraid to ask questions, share ideas, or offer to take on a project you’re excited about. Taking the initiative is an excellent way to show what you can bring to your workplace, while also building your independence and developing new skills.
As time goes by, you may find yourself taking the lead on particular projects and sharing your expertise with the rest of your team â€“ it all begins with putting yourself forward.
Develop Project Management Skills on Your Apprenticeship
Project management is the set of skills and behaviours that enable you to plan and deliver your work on time, and on budget.
During your apprenticeship, you’ll carry out Workplace Projects which contribute to your portfolio, and these can be a goldmine for project management opportunities.
When you’re planning a social media campaign, rolling out a network upgrade, creating a new analytics dashboard, or building a new app, you’ll be putting project management skills into action â€“ maybe without even realising.
If you’re breaking down tasks into manageable chunks, setting yourself deadlines, and coordinating your work with the rest of the team â€“ you’re already building up essential project management skills.
You can expand on these by putting yourself forward to lead on bigger projects as your confidence grows.
Become a Role Model During Your Apprenticeship
Apprentices make excellent role models after all, most of us are completely self-made self-starters who know get things done.
As an apprentice, there are lots of opportunities to build networks and start developing your leadership and mentoring skills. Organisations such as Amazing Apprenticeships and the Young Apprenticeship Ambassador Network are often looking for current apprentices to share their stories and help promote the apprenticeship route to others.
Developing mentoring skills during your apprenticeship is simple. This is a time in your life where you’ll have regularly scheduled mentoring sessions as part of your course, so make the most of them!
You have access to some great mentors and role models, including your colleagues, managers, and Baltic Programme Coach. Try to identify the qualities that make someone a good mentor, and store those lessons away for when you might need them.
The opportunity may come around sooner than you think. If your workplace takes on new apprentices every year, you may have the opportunity to mentor or even manage them.
Think about it, who better to mentor a new apprentice than someone who’s been through it themselves?
So, Can an Apprentice Be a Leader?
Apprentices can make fantastic leaders. During your programme, you’ll be learning and developing the leadership skills you’ll need throughout your career.
By taking the time now to think about the ways your apprenticeship can help you build project management, mentoring, and teamwork skills, you’ll put yourself in a great position for your colleagues to see you as a potential leader right now, and in the future.