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6 Game-Changing Skills, From Leaders Who Underestimated Them These business leaders never imagined how important these skills would be.

By Frances Dodds Edited by Frances Dodds

This story appears in the May 2024 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

When you start a business, play to your strengths. Everyone tells you that, right? But what people don't say is that there will also be a few crucial skills that you never anticipated needing, which you'll have to learn. These skills can vary based on the kind of company you're running, but often, they're underrated leadership skills that apply to all kinds of industries. You may know you're supposed to lead by example or trust your gut, but do you know when it's time to make a joke or turn down that holy grail opportunity? Here, six leaders share the skills they underestimated.

1. Spotting the red flags in dream clients

"I underestimated the importance of discernment. Early on, we had what seemed like a dream client — but red flags started to emerge. They were going through some internal strife, and their executives were contradicting each other, which bled onto our team. Winning the business took precedence over my intuition, and ultimately, the politics of our client pushed our work to the side. It taught me that winning can feel like losing if you aren't careful who you help." — Lillian Marsh, cofounder and managing principal, TinyWins

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