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Commentary

More Leaders Need to Own up to Their Mistakes

Jun 06, 2016

The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question “What leadership style should every entrepreneur try to adopt?” is written by Raegan Moya-Jones, founder and CEO of Aden & Anais.

Ask anyone at my company, and they will tell you that I suck as a manager. I’m fine with that, because I’m not meant to be a manager. I may not have been comfortable saying that 10 years ago when Aden & Anais was a fledgling company I ran from my kitchen table at night, but today, I know that what I’m not isn’t as important as what I am. And I like to think that I am an effective leader.

In many ways, I lead my company the way I lead my family (four daughters, a supportive husband, and two dogs). I’m the CEO in both places, and for a long time, my company was run from my home, so it makes sense that many of the principals that keep my family moving forward in the right direction have also helped me grow this business from my kitchen table to an international baby brand with $65 million in revenue.

See also: What the Greatest Entrepreneurs Get Right About Leading Teams

Lead by example
I would never ask someone to do something that I wouldn’t do myself. I have boundaries between work and home, and I encourage my employees to have them as well. I admit to and own my mistakes. I’m not afraid to be imperfect in front of my children or my employees. I’m not an infallible figure, and seeing my flaws gives them a realistic view of what it takes to do this job.

Listen and encourage
Everyone’s opinion matters. Aden & Anais is very much a democracy. It doesn’t matter if you are the CFO or the office manager. Your opinion matters equally. You should genuinely want and encourage feedback from across the organization and regularly implement ideas that come from all around your company. After all, creativity and good judgment don’t come with a job title.

Treat people how you want to be treated
Yes, this is what your mother taught you to do, and what I’m teaching my girls every day, but it’s the most important thing you can do: Treat people with respect and kindness. This doesn’t mean that there won’t be disagreement and conflict—we’re humans. It means that you should address those issues with others the way you’d like to have them addressed with you. Practice compassion and empathy, and put each other first.

Try to be flexible
Being flexible allows you to keep an open mind and gather all of the facts before making a decision. Flexibility allows you to embrace change and be able to turn on a dime when you see an opportunity. It also enables you to work effectively with a wide range of personalities, and your success as a leader is directly tied to the people you surround yourself with.

Make people feel safe
I make the tough decisions, and I make them quickly. A confident and decisive leader makes people feel safe. The decision may not always be right, but it’s been made. When I’m stressed, I make sure not to let that pressure roll downhill to the rest of the team. That’s not a productive outlet, and leaders do need to be cognizant of the way their own stressors affect the people around them.

Stay humble
I know my weaknesses—I have many—and I know my strengths. I’m not threatened by people with more talent or superior skills than me. I also know that I am a better leader when I surround myself with people who have strong opinions. I want a room full of smart people to challenge and guide this brand to the next level—even if they say I’m a crap manager.

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