Some people are natural-born leaders, but even those with a take-charge, go-getter attitude must learn how to manage other people effectively if they want to be successful as bosses. Leadership is even trickier when you're a new entrepreneur who is trying to grow a company and a team simultaneously.
It's important to understand your team and what they need from you as their manager, and you're not necessarily going to get it right out of the gate. In fact, many new leaders make mistakes while they're learning the ropes. Below, seven entrepreneurs share the biggest mistakes they made as a boss when they first started their companies, and what they would have done differently if they could go back.
Taking Things Too Personally
Many entrepreneurs view their businesses as their baby -- something they created and are fully responsible for nurturing and growing to the point of success. It's easy to see failures or setbacks as a personal reflection on yourself, but Ginger Jones, founder and CEO of Jones Therapy Services, reminds fellow business owners that negative circumstances aren't always about you.
"My company is a product of my heart and soul, so any time something went wrong I would beat myself up," she says. "Through work with coaches, I learned to quit taking things personally, look objectively at the situation and remove myself from the outcome."
Micromanaging Your Team
One of the most common mistakes new business owners make is trying to control every single operational process. ebenefit Marketplace Founder Frank B. Mengert was no exception, and he admits that he had trouble trusting his team when he first started out.
"I micromanaged every aspect of my business and wanted to be involved in everything. Not only did it hinder my ability to focus on growing the business, it frustrated my team and made them afraid to make choices," he shares. "If you show your team you trust them and their ability to make decisions, you win."
Not Being Flexible
Flexibility is key when you're running a business. This is especially true of the way you manage your team. "People work better in flexible environments," reveals Sweta Patel of Silicon Valley Startup Marketing.
"When you stay away from being a control freak, you will receive the best work from your team members," she says. "When I didn't see progress, I would try to handle the job myself. I was failing because I couldn't do everything alone."
Trying to Manage Everyone the Same Way
The best bosses figure out what drives each individual and how each employee likes to communicate, says Aaron Schwartz, co-founder and COO of Passport. This is a lesson he learned the hard way when he took the opposite approach as a new leader.
"When I became a boss for the first time, I had my style -- and only my style. 'Work a lot. No excuses. Keep your personal life at home,'" says Schwartz. "Unless you were exactly like me, I was awful. A successful leader is someone who gets the most out of their team, not one who molds others in their style."
Pretending You Have All the Answers
Like many new leaders, Kasey Kaplan, co-founder and president of Urban FT, felt like he had to have all the answers all the time. This is especially true when you transition from a small team to a larger leadership role.
"It can put an incredible amount of pressure on someone," he says. "My biggest mistake has been not showing humility and not delegating correctly. Leverage the skilled people on your team and openly communicate with them."
Avoiding Crucial Conversations
James Guldan, CEO of Vision Tech Team, notes that his biggest mistake was avoiding crucial conversations because he was trying to be a nice person.
"It doesn't serve either side to avoid having heavy conversations with team members or clients," Guldan says. "Really digging into problems and using effective communication can solve most problems way before they blow up."
Not Giving Your Team Room to Make Mistakes
Every good leader wants to empower their team to succeed. Phat Fudge CEO Mary Shenouda wanted to empower her employees, but as a perfectionist herself, she didn't allow her team the opportunity to make mistakes.
"My team wanted to do everything perfectly the first time, leading to decision paralysis for fear of letting me down," she says. "It was on me to teach them that leadership is the furthest thing from perfection."