My Biggest Mistake: One Size Doesn't Fit All

When it comes to leadership, different employees take to different approaches. Having a cookie-cutter strategy can lead to disaster and in this case, losing top talent.

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By Mike Templeman

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Editor's Note: The following is the fourth in the series "My Biggest Mistake" in which entrepreneur and marketing expert Mike Templeman chats with fellow founders about their missteps, the lessons they learned and advice they can offer to others.

Scott Cohen is the CEO of 180Fusion, an internet-marketing firm that has blossomed over the last four years from a basement startup to having more than 50 employees spread across two states (Utah and California). With this growth, major companies have taken notice -- one being Google.

180Fusionthat has partnered with the search giant on webinars and is recognized as one of their fastest growing partners in the pay-per-click industry.

While the company has seen success, Cohen has experienced setbacks along the way.

Here is one of the biggest mistakes he ever made.

His biggest mistake. When Cohen was first learning to manage a team of employees, he often would use a single style of leadership for the entire group. It was easier and more time effective to simply have a set method of leadership and to stick with it.

Related: My Biggest Mistake: Not Closely Examining the Numbers

However, this one-size-fits-all style ended up losing him his top revenue producer. This was a huge loss for Cohen's company. Looking back, he isn't sure the exact point on where things went wrong with this valuable team member, but he did realize it was due to his management style.

Knowing he needed to change, he looked for words of wisdom pertaining to leadership. He came across a Wooden on Leadership, a book written by the famed UCLA coach, John Wooden. In the book, Wooden explained that as a leader you need to perfect timing: There is a time to be flexible and a time to be firm. As a leader, you have to have the intuition and critical thinking to realize what time it is for different employees.

This resonated with Cohen and he quickly moved to implement these techniques into his management style.

What he learned. In building great organizations, it is important to think in terms of a team mentality and that each employee has different needs. He came to realize that being flexible or firm at different times to different employees wasn't showing favoritism or giving preferential treatment. Rather, it was identifying the individual needs of his team members and giving them the level of management they needed to succeed.

Advice for entrepreneurs. Whether you manage two employees or 200, it is important to understand the time and place for being firm or being flexible. Everyone that reports to you has a challenge they are dealing with or something going on in their personal or work life. You risk the chance of alienating your team if you are unable to manage in both a flexible and firm manner.

Related: 4 Critical Traits of Great Leaders

Mike Templeman

Writer and Entrepreneur

Mike Templeman is the CEO of Foxtail Marketing, a digital-content marketing firm specializing in B2B SaaS. He is passionate about tech, marketing and small business.  When not tapping away at his keyboard, he can be found spending time with his kids.

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