FORTUNE – Boss of the Year is not an award I'm vying for. Seriously. I will bethrilled if my team gets through the rest of the year in one piece.
I left my job as an analyst at McKinsey to start the Levo League last year and, at 25, was thrown into a management position. Books soothed my panic; I poured over David Goleman's Emotional Intelligence, which describes how to influence others' emotions while controlling your own. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh's Delivering Happiness stirred up fantasies of building a company culture of our own, where employees can bring their whole selves to work and get behind common goals. But putting these ideas into practice stalled, rather quickly, and shattered my dreams of managerial grandeur. Reading 500-some rather educational pages does not make a management guru; nothing compares to experience. My priorities -- having difficult but crucial conversations, giving useful feedback, and helping others solve their problems -- materialized after months of trial and error.
It's all about talking
At first, it was tough to have my ideas challenged by team members. What I should have welcomed as constructive feedback instead sent me into a fit. I went from positive to easily irritated: "I don't have time for this" or "I don't care about that" became my go-to responses. I eventually realized pesky questions weren't an attempt at a coup; they stemmed from a lack of clear communication. Evading conflict created much larger issues than talking it out; I was forced to reassess my communication strategy.
I learned the importance of transparency. I now write Sunday Kick Ass Emails (SKAEs); they outline the team's overall goal and break down each employees' responsibilities for the week. We spend less time trying to understand what needs to get done, freeing up creative time to develop future projects. Read the complete article for more lessons.