I fired eight people in eight many years of owning my business. In the scheme of owning a company, it’s normal to possess people quit. And while I’ve spent most of my adult life working for myself, I know that getting fired is a rare occurrence. So why did I cut people loose so easily?

In short, I was a horrible boss. Either I expected too much, or I imposed unrealistic deadlines. Or I hired the incorrect people and then spent their tenure regretting it. 

I wasn’t an excellent boss, and most of that comes from having no management training, but I also learned that part of my missteps came from unresolved emotional issues of my own. Even though I’ve never been fired, I had this notion that employment is really a tenuous tightrope of making nice and doing stellar work.

I’ve arrived at learn that hiring is like any other relationship: if you want it to last, you have to have compassion, be in it for the long term, and stick around when times get tough.

My own insecurities about not being good enough or not being liked colored my view of others. All my life I’d learned I was bossy and had a big mouth, that we took to mean I wasn’t lovable. I never quite trusted that friends and lovers were with me because they wanted to be, so I kept waiting for them to leave. I felt exactly the same way about my staff, which can be why I let employees go before they might walk out on me.

I have a team these days and I’ve hired well. I love working with them, and even better, they love employed by me. I’ve learned a lot by being a horrible boss, most importantly perhaps that being a good boss is an art on its own. But I’ve also learned the next:

1. Being a good boss isn’t something you’re born with.

Just because we all do a job well doesn’t mean we’re primed for management. Leadership training matters.

2. Not everyone is meant to lead.

While my speaking in public and writing inspire, managing isn’t my wheelhouse. And that’s OK.

3. Owning a huge business isn’t for me.

I want to do good work in manageable chunks. In today's world of grow grow grow, it requires courage to shrink a company and also to start loving the work again. I made a decision to shrink my business and resume working at home because I like the work but have no desire to spend my days managing others.

4. Communication skills really are a learned art.

Even people in communications professions may not interact one-on-one so smoothly. And they’re the final people to realize they’re bad communicators.

5. Great leadership originates from seeing the other person as yourself.

I projected what I wanted and what I feared onto my employees. If only I had looked at them as living, breathing people with goals and dreams, however i was too caught up in my own frailties to see.

6. Don’t hire friends.

For that matter, don’t hire people who haven’t worked in years. Most of the women I hired had been home with kids, taking odd jobs to earn extra money. They didn’t need to work and they didn’t want to work too hard. To build a team, you have to be all in – all of you.

7. Just because you know someone doesn’t mean you need to work together.

Yes, you can be sure they won’t steal or burn down your home, but that doesn’t mean you’ll work together well. In fact, they’re less likely to take you seriously like a boss because they know you personally. And you probably won’t stay friends.

8. Business is business.

It’s not personal. Not everyone knows this. If a piece of writing needs editing, or campaign answers are disappointing, it doesn’t mean the one who worked on it is less of a person. Successful people conserve a thick skin. I have a strong personality and like direct communication. I say it enjoy it is. In business, it’s not personal, and when I like things a certain way, that’s all it's.

9. Don’t take it personally when someone quits.

Even when they cite YOU as the reason. There are plenty of bitch bosses people stay with for years.

10. You get what you pay for.

Whether it was a low hourly wage or a low salary, I was more concerned about paying bills and paying myself than offering competitive wages. Quality people can, and should, be selective. And companies have to pay for talent.

The mistakes we make lead us to the people we’re destined to become. These days, I take a deep breath and see within the person across the table the same fragile soul that burns within me, which makes me the best boss I'm able to possibly be.