I'm looking for some advice from the community on my current work situation.
I am currently in a high level individual contributor role. I report to the VP of Operations, who reports to the CIO. I have no direct reports, but I am working on establishing new processes for our operations group. My current role requires good relationships with many technical people and has been a great role for me to work on my networking skills. I rely heavily on influencing others to get answers for issues and new processes in place.
While I love the role I am in, I really want to move out of the individual contributor role, and back into a management role. I held 2 previous management positions in my company, so the role is not new to me.
I recently interviewed for an internal Director level (managing a group of managers) position, and was one of the two final candidates for the job (I know this for certain, since my boss was one of the interviewers). While I didn't get the job, I did get feedback on the interview process from the hiring manager. The hiring manager is acknowledged as one of the best managers in the company. He was open with his feedback and was blunt in telling me that while we were both strong candidates, the one who got the job was stronger on the internal workings of the group and had a better understanding of the groups issues (he is/was the manager for one of the teams under this Director position.
Basically the job went to the manager already in the group, and someone who had previously applied and lost out on the Director job last time it was open.
One additional comment made to me by the VP was that he would be happy to establish a mentoring relationship with me. He said he was impressed with my professionalism and the feedback he got about me during the interview process.
Given all that background, here is my dilemma. The manager position in this group is now open (since the previous manager got the Director job). The VP has told me that he would like to see me apply for the position.
I worry about taking this manager position. Since I had applied for the Director level position, everyone in this organization will know that I am now settling for the Manager position. I fear this makes me look desperate and not confident in my own abilities. I fear that when a Director level position opens in this department, the other Directors will remember how I settled for the Manager position and not feel that I can be one of their peers.
I also worry about my engagement in the Manager position. It will be obvious to all that the Manager position is not were I ultimately want to be in the near future. How long will I have to stay in the Manager position before I can move up?
I'm very conflicted about settling for this position, but I feel that my only chance to move up in the company is in this department. Is this my only way in, or do I wait for something else to open up? Will I always lose out to the department insiders? Should I take this job just to get my foot in the door?
Thank you for reading this far and offering your advice.