13 Management Lessons These Entrepreneurs Learned From the Best Bosses They Ever Had

Many entrepreneurs rely on the formal and informal lessons they’ve learned from their mentors to guide their journeys to success. What’s one thing you learned about management from the best boss you ever had, and how does that lesson impact your day-to-day work or leadership style?

Boss and his employees

These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year, and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.

1. To Trust and Let Go

It may feel like it is more efficient to get things done all by yourself, but in reality, it’s less efficient in the long run. It would always cause me more stress from overworking and cause delays for others as they waited for me to get something done among other tasks. More importantly, it blocks the growth of mentees and employees, as they won’t be able to learn to get the tasks done. Learn to delegate.

Meeky Hwang, Ndevr, Inc.

2. To Really Listen to My Team

I learned from mentors that effective management is all about listening. They taught me to really listen to the needs of my team and my customers, which has shaped how I lead both in terms of decision-making and problem-solving. By actively listening, I’ve been able to create an environment where everyone feels heard and respected, while also empowering them to solve their own problems.

Renato Agrella, Acerca Consulting

3. To Keep Moving Forward

Even your mistakes and failures can propel you if you know how to weaponize them to win your next battles. Business is war, and you have to use each experience, skill or piece of information wisely each day so nothing gets wasted. Teach your people the same principle. With this thinking, any kind of setback, when used wisely, will surely accelerate your growth.

Bryce Welker, Big 4 Accounting Firms

4. To Give People Agency

The best management tip I have learned from mentors is to give people agency. I was given agency and, no pun intended, was able to found my own agency. Empowering people has no consequences, but micromanaging does. We are seeing more people who are understanding the power in relinquishing control and trusting those they hire to do a good job. It was a lesson I learned early on and one I am forever grateful for. 

Matthew Capala, Alphametic

Meeting with employees

5. To Genuinely Care for My Employees

Your employees are the soul of your business. I learned that genuinely caring for your employees can make a world of a difference in their happiness and contentment in the workplace. You can do this by giving occasional bonus holidays when they really need time to spend with their loved ones. Writing thoughtful thank-you notes also boosts employees’ morale and makes them feel appreciated.

Candice Georgiadis, Digital Day

6. To Link Actions to Goals

Very often we get stuck on vanity metrics with regards to running a business, and it’s important to understand that our actions should be in line with our goals. My mentor always taught me to disregard anything that did not move the needle in terms of achieving our desired outcome. This helped me stay focused and see good results.

Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

7. To Take Responsibility for My Actions

You won’t be able to grow and be better than you were yesterday if you simply throw your mistakes under the rug and never learn from them. So, when you’ve made a mess, own it. Reflect upon what you did wrong and try not to repeat the same mistakes again. This philosophy influenced my style of leadership and helped me be where I am today.

Chris Klosowski, Easy Digital Downloads

8. To Be Effective Rather Than Busy

I learned about time management and that being busy isn’t the same as being effective. Dividing your time based on impact and effort, prioritizing based on high-impact and low-effort tasks and learning to delegate will increase your productivity. This will also allow you to focus more on things that bring the most value to your company and your people.

Samuel Thimothy, OneIMS

Colleague communicating about a project

9. To Invest in My Communication Skills

If you want to be a powerful boss with strong management skills, you need to invest in your communication skills. As a leader, you should be able to put your thoughts and ideas into words. Only then can your employees give shape to them.

Andrew Munro, AffiliateWP

10. To ‘Make It Happen’

My former boss was a force to be reckoned with. She was the embodiment of success in stiletto heels and flip curls. She believed there was no challenge we couldn’t tackle and always encouraged us to go beyond the accepted boundaries of what could be achieved to make it happen. That “make it happen” attitude toward work gave us the confidence to push ourselves and strive for excellence in everything we did.

Tonika Bruce, Lead Nicely, Inc.

11. To Lead Through Example

My boss taught me to lead through example. He was always punctual, responsible, very helpful and extremely hard-working. He wouldn’t just ask us to do things; he would take the time to explain it to us and always offer help, which inspired me a lot. Now I do it with my employees. This has helped me create a positive work culture of mutual trust and respect without the need to micromanage anyone.

Josh Kohlbach, Wholesale Suite

12. To Make Time for Self-Reflection

My mentor taught me the importance of self-reflection. Time moves fast, and many people don’t stop to analyze their performance, which leads to making the same mistakes over and over again. Now, I take one day a week to reflect on what I got right, where I can improve and what I would like to do in the future. This strategy has made me a strong leader and productive business owner.

Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights

Scheduling workday

13. To Take Control of My Schedule

There are plenty of lessons I can share, but the most vital one is about the importance of time management. In my early days of entrepreneurship, I booked meetings based on someone else’s schedule, which got really hectic and resulted in too many canceled meetings. Then I was introduced to Calendly, which was a booking tool that forever changed my daily life. I now live through my calendar.

Fritz Colcol, Simply Thalia