This Founder’s Company Was Growing Faster Than Her Leadership Skills. Here’s How She Learned to Keep Up

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  • Simple Mills founder Katlin Smith had to learn the difference between managing and leading.

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Running a fast-growing company is exciting, but what happens when the company grows faster than your skill set? This is a problem Katlin Smith faced the hard way while building her baked-goods company Simple Mills

When Smith first started her company, she hired a bunch of young, excited, scrappy employees to get it off the ground. Eventually she realized that in order to scale the business, she’d need to hire people with 15-20 years of experience under their belts. She scoured LinkedIn for high-quality, seasoned candidates to build out her team. But two months into her new employees’ tenure, Smith started running into problems. 

“They started to get pretty frustrated with me,” she says in an Inc. video. “They felt like I was micromanaging, and that I was proverbially, ‘in their shorts,’ and I had kind of a realization then that I had to change my approach.” 

Smith’s big takeaway: Learn how to be a leader of people, rather than just a manager who gets things executed. Employees with experience don’t want to be told how to do tasks, they want to be given a direction and the freedom to apply their own problem-solving solutions.

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