Have you noticed (I hope) how the best leaders have a keen sense of the things they need to avoid doing to keep leading at a high level?

Whether it's focusing less on themselves and putting the spotlight on their followers (what we call servant leadership), or having the self-awareness to tap into the thoughts of colleagues, customers, or shareholders (what we call emotional intelligence), they are committed to their own continued development.

As they grow, you'll find that they learn to avoid these five common mistakes which can really "blow it" with their best people.

1. Squashing the Talents and Strengths of Team Members

Not recognizing their unique strengths and talents beyond a job description, and how that translates to high performance, is certainly an engagement killer. People love to use their unique gifts. The best leaders will leverage close relationships with employees by finding out what their strengths are, and bringing out the best in their employees.

2. Hoarding Information

Here's the real reason leaders hoard and withhold information: it's about power and control. And control is one of the most effective ways to kill trust. A leader hoarding information to control his environment and the people in it cannot be trusted. The reverse of this is a leader who acts responsibly by sharing information and being transparent with their team.

3. Micro-managing

Micro-managers operate their way because, again, it's about power, and power is about control; don't let them fool you by making you believe it's to keep from things going bad, or because they want to ensure things are done "the right way" as the "experts."

4. Getting the Last Word

Are you an employee reporting to a manager who is always right, and has the final say on everything? In leadership literature, this is a person with low emotional intelligence. When this leader doesn't solicit the opinions of others, get buy-in from team members (especially when change is on the horizon, because change is often scary), trust erodes and morale goes in the tank.

5. Not Making Themselves Available

Some (but not all) meetings are important and necessary. We all get that. But when leaders are booking unnecessary meeting-after-meeting while spending less face time with team members, that leader is sending a message that they don't care about team members. This may not be a reflection of character, but it's what is coming across to team members.

Questions to ask:

If you're an employee, are you experiencing these behaviors in the person that leads you? What is one step you can take to improve your situation?

If you're a leader, what do you need to do--or stop doing--to get out of these patterns that may be affecting your team's productivity?