SEVENTEEN YEARS ago, when I landed my first management job, I had no idea what I was in for. At the time, it was the next step in my career at the company I was with, but it wasn't something I thought too much about prior to that.
In a way, it just happened. It wasn't something I set out to accomplish. Fortunately, I was groomed for it and was provided the opportunity. In a way, I guess you could call it luck.
Since my first management job, I've had the opportunity to manage hundreds of sales professionals at several different companies. To say it's been rewarding would be an understatement.
Sure there have been countless tough days. I'd be lying if there weren't times where I questioned why in the world I chose the career I did. But I suppose on certain days, everyone can say that, regardless of what they do for a living.
At the end of the day, management is a people business. Sure you have things to sell and business objectives to meet. But it's all about the people. And to me, that is the best part about management. It's all about the impact you have on people.
When I look back on my career to date, the one thing I think about the most is all of the people I have had the opportunity to work with and watch grow and become successful. I think about the people who I believed in that others didn't. I think of the people who had a long road ahead in order to become successful that worked tirelessly to make it happen.
And I also think a lot about the people I have worked with where the outcome was not as desirable. I've had to make a lot of difficult decisions, and that is the part of management I dislike the most. Unfortunately, that's the reality of the job, and there is nothing you can do about it. If there is anyone that enjoys that part of the job, then they shouldn't be managing people.
The best managers and leaders I know are those who have a burning desire to help people be successful. They dedicate their careers to helping develop the skills of the people they work with. that is the one difference I see between effective and noneffective leaders. It's the passion they have for helping people succeed.
If you manage people, it's something you should take extremely seriously. You are directly impacting the careers and personal lives of every single person you work with.
As I mentioned in a column earlier this year, when I became a manager, my boss pulled me into his office and said to me, "Effective today, you are now the topic of conversation at the dinner table of every person on your team."
That single statement had a profound impact on how I view my role as a manager and the approach I take to leading people. It's something I think about every day I walk into the office and every day I leave. It's deep and a little fluffy, but helping people grow professionally and personally is what real leadership is all about.
Just never forget the human element and the impact you have on the lives of everyone you manage.
Christopher Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes Closing the Deal weekly for the Sunday News. Thompson is the vice president of sales and services for Leadership Solutions at Skillsoft, a Nashua-based provider of learning solutions. Visit Skillsoft on the web at skillsoft.com.