Site Overlay

5 Frustrating Leadership Mistakes to Avoid

By Larry Broughton     

If you want to succeed as an entrepreneur, corporate executive, nonprofit director, community organizer or anything in between, you must be a good and effective leader. Many organizations have been destroyed by poor leadership—don’t let yours be one of them.

Leadership includes the capacity to rally others around a common cause and the clarity of character to inspire confidence among those in our charge. This, however, is not easy. Failures in leadership are commonplace…not only due to a lack of integrity but also deficient savvy, skill and experience. This gap isn’t simply due to malice or ill-intent but could be simple ignorance. If you want to elevate your impact as an entrepreneur, leader or high achiever, here are a few frustrating leadership mistakes to avoid:

Avoiding Accountability

No one likes making mistakes, and no one likes admitting fault in public. Some people don’t like it because it’s embarrassing, while others fear the effect it may have on their influence and image.

Regardless of the reason, dodging accountability is more trouble than it’s worth. It may keep your ego safe, but it damages your organization’s health.

If you’re not accountable, stakeholders can’t trust your business. People will rightly second-guess your actions once you gain a reputation for dodging accountability. Team member and client loyalty can and will drop, and you’ll have trouble motivating people around you. It may seem unfair, but that’s part of the leadership journey.

You are responsible for everything that happens inside your organization.

Creating a Cult of Personality

You’re a high achiever with at least an inkling of vision. You thought your ideas and insights were good enough that you stepped into the leadership gap; thus, you have some measure of confidence and an ego.

An ego (within reason) is fine, but believing the organization revolves around you and you alone is NOT okay. It’s easy to start dictating and dominating instead of actually leading. The moment you start thinking, “It’s my way or the highway,” is the moment you’ve crossed a line and need to rethink what being a leader means. And when you build a culture of “do it my way,” you choke off initiative and innovation.

Part of being a good leader is remembering you’re here to serve as such; you’re an inspiration, someone who shows team members the horizon so they want to make great ships.

Dictating Instead of Leading

As the leader, you decide the direction of the organization. You’ll often have the final say in many things, and rightfully so. You have the responsibility. You have the authority. You decide.

However, that doesn’t mean decisions should be made unilaterally. When you’re not listening, it’s less communication and more dictation, and you’re NOT a dictator!

Think about how your conversations go. Can you remember anything anyone else said? Have any of your plans been adjusted due to outside input, or have they never required tweaking? If it’s the latter, you may have a communication problem. This problem can result in partners and team members rightfully feeling unheard and unimportant, which can lead to discord, discontent and an increased turnover rate.

Letting Poor Performers Stay

There’s a reason to give people second chances. People will make mistakes. You will make mistakes. Mistakes that will echo throughout your organization’s lifetime, and that’s okay. It’s part of being a leader.

However, that doesn’t mean you should let poor performers stick around. Whether it’s due to pity or conflict avoidance, you may be tempted to let someone stay on a little too long—and that’s when you become a bad leader.

There’s nothing wrong with compassion, but there’s a difference between being compassionate and letting feelings dictate the direction of the organization. You owe it to the company and its high performers to streamline its systems, even if that means firing that really nice guy who can’t seem to keep track of your shipments. It’s not easy, but it must be done.


You have big problems on your plate as an entrepreneur, leader or high achiever. You’re worried about marketing campaigns, product development and innovation, as well as finding the right team members. The big picture is huge, and there’s always something else to handle. However, somehow, you can find the time to check over your shoulder and handle everything yourself. You micromanage and end up making your team members feel helpless and even redundant. Not only will it essentially waste any money you’ve spent hiring those people, but it can also distract you from the big picture.

It may be strange to hear, but you must not sweat the small stuff. That’s why you hired people—to handle the daily minutiae while you focus on directing the ship. You decide the course and find treasure; they row and keep the decks clean.

Wrap Up

These mistakes are, unfortunately, as damaging as they are common. If you want to make it as a leader, high achiever or entrepreneur, you’ll have to weed out these mistakes and make sure you don’t commit them. It may seem like a small thing, but every hit your leadership reputation takes is a hit that may take years from which to recover. Both greatness and mediocrity in the leadership arena are self-imposed. Choose wisely.

Larry Broughton is a former U.S. Army Green Beret, best-selling author, award-winning entrepreneur, keynote speaker and leadership mentor. For more information, visit

Discover more articles for the veteran community here.

The post 5 Frustrating Leadership Mistakes to Avoid appeared first on U.S. Veterans.

Welcome to your local American Legion! We will no longer be open for dinner on Mondays and Tuesdays.