By reading this article, you have already avoided the first mistake: thinking you are done learning how to be a good leader. Though it may seem that people never change and management principles all boil down to the same few tenets, good leaders know that to continue to motivate and inspire requires a commitment to sharpen and expand the tools in their toolbox.

He, she, they

Integrity, honesty and transparency get bandied about quite frequently when discussing the qualities of good leaders. The problem is when we mistake talking to staff about their peers, engaging in gossip or otherwise using the words "he," "she" or "they" under the guise of being open.

It is important to keep the lines of communication open and maintain trust via transparency, but discussing a co-worker's weaknesses, plans that affect other team members without them present or otherwise commiserating with a subordinate to build trust will eventually backfire. When talking about someone, make sure that person is in the room, or risk setting the example that such behavior is condoned.

Set them free

Leaders are frequently quoted as saying they want people smarter than they are on their teams. That is all well and good, but to keep people smarter than we are on our teams we need to support them in their growth — even if that means they leave our team.

Leading a team of experts can present its own challenges, the primary of which is smart people will quickly realize if they are being held back. Support them on their path, wherever it may be and realize that the more talented individuals who blossom under your wing, the more who will want to join your team.

Friends, no benefits

Each generation that enters the workforce pushes the envelope of what is an acceptable office relationship further and further. What used to be a formal dinner with the team around the holidays has transformed to ordering in dinner, working late and heading out for beers on any given Tuesday.

While there can be plenty of benefits to deepening the bonds between and among team members, as a leader it is important to maintain perspective, professionalism and objectivity. It will help keep clear the lines between things you should know and do and those you wish you didn't.

Show, not tell

The best leaders almost seem fearless. They embrace accountability and high standards and show it via their actions. It is almost unnecessary for them to tell us what they have done for us lately because we are experiencing the results.

Similarly, when giving feedback, mentoring, coaching or providing any kind of guidance, strong leaders tend to show us what can be accomplished with real examples and inspire us with stories. They also tend to ask us questions to help us think our way through the situation on our own, increasing both our understanding and buy-in to the solution.

The bottom line is, strong leaders find a way to illustrate or illuminate the path for us, inspire and support us on our journey and celebrate all our wins even if that means we have outgrown them.