13 Unprofessional Behaviors Real Leaders Should Eliminate A Guest Post by the Young Entrepreneur Council Originally Printed in Inc.


With the stress of running a business while simultaneously keeping up with your clients and team, you may fall victim to some less-than-professional behaviors in response to the constant demands on your time. But luckily, there is a way to bounce back.

Thirteen entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) share the worst faux pas they’ve committed while in a position of leadership, as well as their best advice for rebounding from these sticky situations.

1. Not listening.

In the earliest stages of building a company, it’s often easily to lose sight of what constituents (employees, vendors, clients, partners) are saying while chasing progress. Taking the time to refocus and listen has allowed my company to grow more than simply bulldozing ahead. —Reza Chowdhury, AlleyWatch

2. Micromanaging.

Letting go of some things when it comes to your business can be hard. It took me a while to learn that micromanaging wasn’t the best way to manage my team, nor was it the best way for me to spend my time. Once I made myself take a step back, I could really focus on the things that only I can do to grow the business. I left the other stuff to the experts that I hired. —Brooke Bergman, Allied Business Network Inc.

3. Becoming short with my team.

While facing a big deadline that was going sideways, I allowed the stress of the moment to overcome my sense of positivity and patience. As leaders, we need to stay sharp and grounded during good times and bad. I realized that my communication became cold and to the point, and I stopped leading with gratitude. A quick apology and affirmation of respect and mutual purpose got us back on track. —Andrew Thomas, SkyBell Video Doorbell

4. 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. 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. —Robby Hill,HillSouth

5. Talking behind someone’s back.

I should have fired an employee sooner rather than go around her to other employees while waiting for her to change. When the other employees got the sense that I wasn’t being direct with the poorly performing employee, they worried that I wouldn’t be direct with them if they messed up. While they knew that employee was a drain, they felt badly for her because I wasn’t being honest. —Wei-Shin Lai, M.D., AcousticSheep LLC

6. Allowing my ego to get in the way.

Everyone has big “ego” moments, but realizing that you do what you need to do for the success of the company is paramount. Being empathetic and learning to quickly take a step back and see the reactions of people on the team should allow you to adapt and adjust, and push everything into the right direction again. —Julien Pham,RubiconMD

7. Shrugging off difficult clients.

I would allow the team to see me roll my eyes when we had a client being ridiculous or crazy. I quickly realized that that culture was trickling down to everyone. Immediately, I got out in front of it, stood up in front of the team, and admitted I had started the trend, but it had to end immediately. No matter how ridiculous clients may seem, they are still clients trying to make their businesses work. —Erik Huberman, Hawke Media

8. Letting a small issue become a huge issue.

Not many people like conflict. This can mean that issues that start out small and don’t seem “worth” addressing can grow unchecked until they become 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. Now I am more direct with my team. —Douglas Hutchings, Picasolar

9. Not taking criticism.

When you think your idea is perfect, you resent it when friends and colleagues criticize it or suggest changes. Our first months in business were horrible. While several prospects inquired about lower price points, we weren’t interested in making this change. We were so sure of our imminent success that we even overtly dismissed customer input. —Alfredo Atanacio, Uassist.ME

10. Texting during meetings.

At some point I became addicted to my smartphone and was checking it every 30 seconds, even during company and client meetings. I wanted to stay on top of everything and couldn’t keep my eyes away. I found I was only half-present in meetings and not giving people my full attention. Needless to say, I now put my phone away during meetings and have learned to curb my addiction. —Marcela DeVivo, National Debt Relief

11. Not scheduling regular meetings.

During the initial startup phase, I made the mistake of thinking that there wasn’t a need for scheduled meetings because the team was relatively small. A significant uptake in email correspondence and Skype calls soon became apparent when team members started checking in with me the moment a question arose. I overcame this by scheduling regular meetings, which allowed our staff to group questions. —Luigi Wewege, Vivier Group

12. Bringing up “touchy” subjects.

I’ve always wanted to feel close to my employees and make it known that they could talk to me about anything that was bothering them. However, I made the mistake of checking up too much and inquiring about their feelings, and it began to be invasive. I learned that I definitely can be friends with my employees, but I have to put up boundaries and make it known that I am still an authority figure. —Miles Jennings,Recruiter.com

13. Not checking in the right way.

Hubstaff is a 100 percent remote company. I used to think our own time-tracking software on its own was enough, but in hindsight I wasn’t getting the visual info I needed about each developer’s work. Our team ended up wasting a lot of time and money from miscommunication. Now I ask all developers for a quick 3-4-minute screenshot video explaining their work and roadblocks at the end of the day. —Jared Brown, Hubstaff

2 thoughts on “13 Unprofessional Behaviors Real Leaders Should Eliminate A Guest Post by the Young Entrepreneur Council Originally Printed in Inc.

  1. You are on a role, Phyllis,
    I loved the simple & clear message here, that so many of us fail to keep ever-present in our minds as we work with others in the course of our daily leadership roles. Nurses are leaders by virtue of what we do every day. We are the most respected profession, as per a national poll done every year, for quite some time. (Firemen beat us out only once, following the World Trade Center attack on 9-11.

    To me, this built upon the premise that I’ve tried to keep in my daily life in all areas, all the time, sometimes with greater degrees of success than others; of course I’m referencing “The Golden Rule” with an eye towards applying that in business & professional life…
    Treat people individually & in groups as you want others to treat you; give respect to get respect; publically value the work of others, & privately offer suggestions for improvements; don’t waste people’s time; come
    prepared & follow through.

    Those amongst us who are in leadership roles not only have a designated role within our companies, agencies, etc. but we are also mentors to those around us, whether we choose to be or not. People watch what we do, how we do it, & if we are effective. Over my many years of nursing & in my nurse-entrepreneurial life, I’ve learned as much from people I admired & wanted to emulate as I have from those whose people-skills, leadership, administrative or communication skills were lacking, & whose styles I chose to consciously NOT follow as I developed & honed my career & personal skill sets.

    I’m one of those people who collects slogans & articles that I find inspirational & I share them when I lecture or present to groups. This will be added to my stockpile.

    Thank you for sharing this.

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