If you've already read How to Start Off Right as an AV Technician, now is a good time to investigate taking the next step in your career. For an audio visual technician (AV tech), moving up the professional hierarchy often means pursuing a position as a lead technician. If this is a career path that you are considering, you should prepare yourself by building upon some of the basic competencies you have already developed as a tech.
As an AV tech, there is an extent to which--even though you are primarily working with inanimate objects--you still have to be mindful of the customer-facing aspects of your role. You conduct yourself with an appropriate level of professionalism, courtesy, respect, and etc. The same holds for lead tech positions, albeit to a much greater extent. You should anticipate having to develop an approach that is much more sensitive to the finer points of customer service.
In your new position, you will be the proverbial face of the company, the first point of contact. Crucially, this means that you will want to develop a manner that makes customers both feel heard and confident in your ability to see that their needs are met. This is a core leadership ability that is difficult to fake, so the best approach is to work on active listening--make a conscious effort to hear, understand, and remember specific customer concerns as they are expressed to you. This will increase the customer's faith in your capability and ensure that their first impression of your employer is a positive one.
A lead tech needs to be the most generally competent member of their team. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't delegate responsibility according to ability; as this is part and parcel of effective leadership, you absolutely should. But you will find that things run much more smoothly when all relevant parties see you as an expert.
If you don't know where to begin brushing up your skills, start with something you enjoy. Once you feel thoroughly grounded in one area, move into territory with which you are less familiar. Here, you shouldn't feel ashamed to reach out to people whose reputation precedes them. It seems to be a universal law of human nature that we enjoy demonstrating mastery when given the opportunity to do so.
Speak to your manager about acquiring more certifications. Even if they won’t pay for it, certifications are always a worthwhile investment. CTS, CTS-D, CTS-I, and other certifications are irrefutable evidence of both the richness of your skillset and your willingness to push yourself to acquire new knowledge. Become intimately familiar with InfoComm for certification details and dates for upcoming training sessions.
Experience, Experience, Experience
If an attribute is common to all lead techs, it’s a comparative wealth of that vaunted quality for which no known substitute exists--experience.
With experience, you find your own way of doing things. You develop both a technical and an interpersonal style that sets you apart from your peers. So take the overtime when it's available. Be quick to consider new approaches and listen with discernment to ideas that challenge your habits.
Learn Leadership Skills
I'll risk redundancy to state frankly that the biggest difference between an AV technician and a lead is the ability to do just that: lead. How does one learn to lead? The same way we learn everything else: mimicry. Find someone you respect and hold them up as a model and unofficial mentor. Imitate their leadership style until you are comfortable enough to experiment and make it your own.
You can take leadership courses and consume content about what it takes to be an effective manager. YouTube is brimming with content from thought leaders in every conceivable field, so find a credible manager whose content you're capable of enjoying and soak it up. Here, you need not limit yourself to the AV field because the skills you are trying to acquire are interpersonal in nature. Effective leaders are often charismatic, so it shouldn't be too difficult to discover a palatable guru.
Be All Business
Come in early and leave late. Demonstrate your commitment to professionalism. Even though your job requires casual clothing, you should still look your best. Stains, rips, and logos (other than your employers) might not seem like that big of a deal, but personal appearance is--everywhere and always--the basis of first impressions. Plus, it's an easy variable to account for, so make sure to hit the layup.
The initiative speaks volumes. Pushing yourself to become a technically skilled leader is a surefire way to demonstrate that you are the best choice for their next lead tech position.
With all the world's knowledge at your fingertips, a strong sense of professionalism, and the basic humility that allows you to learn from others, you are well prepared to take the first steps toward becoming an effective lead. So get out there and do it. You have everything you need.