Derek Jeter announced today he would retire after the 2014 season, ending the run of one of the greatest Yankees and one of baseball's best ambassadors.

The outpouring of emotion on Twitter about the news is instructive for business leaders. What we liked about Jeter were the leadership traits we hope we have in ourselves.

He was selfless. Jeter was a legitimate New York star and a great captain for the Yankees. But you never saw him put his own interests above the team's. He knew that his success came not from his individual achievements alone, but how he used that to further the good of his team. That helped the Yankees, but it also helped his own industry, Major League Baseball. 

 

 

He played hard. Talent doesn't automatically make you a star, in sports or in business. Jeter practiced hard and played hard. He ran out every ground ball. He played through pain. He moved runners when he was at the plate. He honored the game on the field. At a time when many athletes don't want to put their bodies at risk for fear of losing money on their contracts, no one ever questioned Jeter's work ethic.

 

 

He understood his role. When you're an athlete, all eyes are on you, particularly among the kids. Personal success is important, but you have to know that people look up to you and want to be you. This is sometimes the hardest role for leaders: to set a good example. He excelled at that.