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5 Characteristics of Those Who Earn the Right to Lead To excel as a leader you must put the team ahead of yourself and not be puzzled by the paradox.

By Marty Fukuda

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


To recognize the traits of a great leader, and then attempt to personally embody them is similar to dining at a world-class restaurant and trying to duplicate that meal at home later. Your efforts likely won't meet your expectations.

Why? The chef has countless hours of training that you do not. Also, recreating the meal requires knowledge of each ingredient used. Still, knowing what you like about the dish is a good place to start.

Here are five characteristics we all need to become great leaders, even if knowing this alone won't quite get us there.

1. Love of the game.

Passion is undoubtedly a prerequisite for greatness in any walk of life. A burning desire to achieve only exists if you love what you do, and you cannot fake this. If your team doubts your passion, it's not possible to create a vision for them they'll want to follow.

Find a business and a role you really care about. It might not be love at first sight -- it may take a while for your excitement to manifest itself -- but once it does, your passion for the business will be contagious.

Related: Why 'Follow Your Passion' Is Awful, Flawed Advice

2. Great communication.

In today's business world, you have to be articulate. Not only is it important for you to have terrific ideas, your ability to rhapsodize is just as crucial. If communication isn't one of your strong suits, make an effort to become a better writer, speaker and listener. After all, the ability to rally the troops is a time-honored quality that has long been a necessity for kings, generals and entrepreneurs alike.

3. Tough enough.

Any entrepreneur could write a novel on the importance of bouncing back from hardship and persevering though challenging times. A hearty dose of mental toughness isn't only important for a leader to exhibit for their own psychological health, but also for the health of their team. When your employees see you have the ability to push past any obstacle fearlessly, they will continue to want to be a part of that. Also, a no-quit attitude has a remarkable way of rubbing off on others.

Related: Why Resilience Is the Key Ingredient for Successful Entrepreneurship

4. Sharp memory.

The best leaders share the paradoxical trait of being able to move past a mistake as if it never took place, yet still walk away with important lessons learned never to be forgotten. Dwell too much on a past mistake and it can cripple a leader from making a decisive call. The effective leader can compartmentalize mistakes in a different part of their mind, hiding it away until needed, while not letting it affect their confidence in the moment.

5. Team-centered ambition.

The best leaders put their teams and teammates first. They know that if they take care of business and those around them, they will eventually get what they deserve. Personal ambition isn't bad, so long as it's kept in check and made a lesser priority.

Related: Develop These 5 Skills to Become a Tremendous Leader

Marty Fukuda

Chief Operating Officer of N2 Publishing

Chicago native Marty Fukuda is the chief operating officer of N2 Publishing, overseeing operations at its corporate headquarters in Wilmington, N.C. He first joined the company as an area director in 2008 after working in the direct sales and print industries. 

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