13 Mistakes Exceptional Leaders Avoid

Running a business is hard work. And exceptional leaders aren’t born overnight. The stress of keeping up with your clients and team can be overwhelming to say the least. However, you’ll want to avoid falling victim to unprofessional behaviors in response to the constant demands on your time and energy.

Exceptional leaders avoid:

Not Listening

It’s often easy to lose sight of what others (employees, vendors, clients, partners) are saying while chasing progress in our businesses. Sometimes pride gets in the way or there’s pressure to meet operational demands or sales goals. Take the time to refocus your priorities and listen to those around you. People who feel that their voice and opinions have been heard are typically much better partners in achieving company goals.


Stop it! No, really stop it! You must put the right person in place and trust the job that they are doing. Letting go of some things when it comes to your business can be hard. If you have the right people in place, you are able to really focus on the things that you can do to grow the business.

Losing Your  Temper

Although we are human, leaders need to stay as calm as possible during good times and bad. Most people don’t appreciate being talked down to or yelled at in any situation. If you notice yourself beginning to lose control, step away for a few moments and do your best to calm down. Things like meditation, walking, and music can be very helpful.

Lacking Transparency

As leaders we are expected to make big decisions with facts pretty much only known to us for reasons that only we think we can understand. And while in some cases that may be true, don’t assume that others won’t care about or understand your vision. You have to be more transparent to your company stakeholders and your team to really have their buy-in to your master plan. Don’t let the urge to act quickly cause you to forget to communicate and offer explanations as to why your direction is best.


If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Yeah, I know. It’s so cliche. But the advice is solid. Don’t participate or encourage gossiping of any kind. Nothing good ever comes from negativity.

Relying on Ego

Everyone has big “ego” moments, but try not to become too overly confident. Being empathetic and learning to quickly take a step back and see the reactions of people on the team will allow you to adapt and adjust.

Ignoring Difficult Clients

Be a role model for those around you and set an example in dealing with difficult clients. No matter how ridiculous they may seem, they are also trying to make their businesses work.

Letting a Small Issue Become a Huge Issue

Not many people like conflict but as we all know, issues can sometimes snowball. This can mean that something may start out small and doesn’t seem worth addressing but can grow until it becomes too uncomfortable to easily fix. Company culture is defined by the worst behavior you are willing to tolerate, and having a toxic culture because you are too polite to call someone out on unacceptable behavior is a recipe for disaster.

Constructive Criticism

It can be easy to resent it when friends and colleagues criticize your ideas or suggest changes. Remember that constructive criticism about your ideas is not a personal attack. Instead of viewing it as a negative thing, take the opportunity to improve upon the foundation that you have built.

Being Pre-occupied During Meetings

I know. We are all pretty much attached to our smartphones. They go with us everywhere and store our entire lives.  Checking it every 30 seconds is completely normal right?! The result is that you are only half-present in meetings and not giving people your full attention. Put the phone away and/or place it in do not disturb mode during this time.

Not Scheduling Regular Meetings


Communication is critical in a team environment. And a great way to encourage communication within a team is to hold regular meetings to discuss business. Meetings don’t have to be a time suck and can be beneficial for everyone involved. Create a meeting agenda beforehand and be sure to have all meeting materials ready. If necessary, use a timer or alarm to end the meeting at a reasonable time.

Being Everyone’s Friend

It’s important to have boundaries with your employees for both legal and ethical reasons. Your policies should be well documented and followed consistently with all staff. Don’t lose great employees because someone else (who happens tp be a friend) is allowed to get away with poor behavior. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t still care for and help them whenever possible. Your employees are the best investment you have in your business. And they should feel appreciated.

Not Checking In

While it’s wise not to micromanage, it’s also wise to check in with people from time to time. Don’t give people the impression that you are uninterested in the business. If you aren’t interested, they won’t be either.