No matter how many books you read or classes you take on leadership, sometimes the hardest lessons can only be taught through experience. When starting out, try to avoid creating these same mistakes that most leaders have to learn the hard way:

Don’t let competition kill your creative process.

Paying attention to the competition is vital to success, but don’t let this focus stop you from being creative and innovative within your own company. Some leaders get so caught up with mimicking what the competition is doing and trying to do it better, that they become identical to their competitors. These leaders should keep a watchful eye on the competition while still trying to set their products or services apart in some way. Don’t lose sight of who you are as a brand just to chase after someone else in the industry.

Invest in the right people.

Many leaders find out the hard way that investing in the right people to work for you is absolutely essential. Spend a little extra to get the perfect person for the job instead of settling for someone who will need extensive training and hand holding to get the job done. The best leaders hire people who can be trusted to do their jobs. This way, leaders can delegate work to their employees and focus on growing the company instead of watching over employees’ shoulders to make sure everything is done correctly.

Learning never ends.

Sometimes, leaders of successful companies can become overly confident and think they’ve mastered the art of being a leader in their industry. However, these leaders who have become so comfortable in their role will most likely get left behind as the market and industry changes around them. Great leaders know that learning never ends, no matter how successful a company comes to be. Leaders should always attend new lectures, seminars and conferences to stay on top of the industry, and make it a point to engage with customers whenever possible to identify new trends or market opportunities.

Talk less, listen more.

Have you ever heard someone say that their bosses love the sound of their own voice? Many leaders can get wrapped up in their success and feel they have the answer to everything, even if they clearly don’t. Only the best leaders learn from experience that it is necessary to hear the thoughts and opinions of your trusted advisors. Successful leaders know they will not always be the smartest person in the room, and therefore look to others for help when out of their comfort zone.

Don’t be impulsive.

Impulsive decisions rarely lead to good outcomes, a lesson that is quickly learned when in a decision-making role. Great leaders know that the best decision is not always the easiest or quickest, so it’s best to weigh the different options before making a final decision.