I was in college when I had my first management opportunity. Every Thursday night, our entire campus would crowd our 800 capacity chapel to sing/play music for an hour. The music was led by a band, which I became an active part of. First, I got into the band based on my bass-playing abilities (and because EVERYONE always needs a bassist 🙂 ). After a bit of time, however, I found myself playing guitar and singing a bit – assuming more responsibility. Before I knew it, I was one of the band leaders, planning, singing, playing, and coordinating a very large weekly gathering in one of the most coveted roles on campus. The role was loaded with responsibility, a need for attention to detail, and a need for being motivational to the people I was working with…but I could succeed largely upon my strong talent in this area.
I was in my first management job.
Everyone has ups in downs in their first management role. Heck, every management job has that – period. If someone tells you that’s not true, they’re not true. I had moments of forgetting song lyrics, missing a pitch, or breaking one (or a few 🙂 ) strings during a session…but I did well enough and I learned that, even though I loved playing music and being a part of that gathering, I moreso loved being in the driver’s seat, taking responsibility, and managing the people around me to do an amazing job at accomplishing a task… and collectively celebrating how awesome my team did in accomplishing our goal.
A year later, I fell into an awesome position, where I helped manage and run an online printing business. This company is a smallish one (15 employees give or take) and every person there has to wear multiple hats. However, as a manager at this job, I had to wear all hats at some point – well enough to teach any of those jobs. I was now in a position where I couldn’t rely entirely on my talents and abilities; I had to rely on the people around me. I learned to communicate with others, to be a leader but to be humble and to ask for help. I earned people’s respect, not by how great of a musician I was but by winning others over on a daily basis through respect, humility, and partnership.
My most recent leadership position began just over 2 years ago. I now work in a retail management capacity, functioning as a important cog on a management team of 4 people – running a high sales volume store with more than 50 employees. Like my other two previous roles, I’ve had my great moments and my “other” moments – but I’ve learned to be optimistic, consistent, balanced, dependable, bold, and decisive. I’m now being relied upon more than ever and I have no option to not succeed or to pass the buck to someone else. I have to be responsible because 50 people are relying on me to make the right decisions… and my success is now dependant upon what I do with those 50 people.
The bottom line is this: managing people is awesome but it is also not always for everyone. Each role has taught me something – the need to rely on abilities, the importance of being supported by and supporting a team, and how to view success – not just through myself – but through the collective. However, throughout all of this has been a thread of learning – and learning through a constant and borderline-obsessive desire to succeed in my role at almost any cost.
I’ve learned how necessary it is to have an inner, independent fire to succeed and an ability to adapt to and grow in any surroundings. I love the pressure, the responsibility, the challenge to succeed, and the people around me. And this is why I love being a manager.