I've had the privilege of working with many great leaders as an entrepreneur, and I get to meet incredible CEOs daily through angel investing and advising. All of that has made one thing super clear to me: Talented leaders share several key qualities.
I realized this when I first met my friend, fellow Henry Crown fellow, and mentor, Sheila Marcelo, who founded Care.com, a company that makes it easier to find child care, senior care, special needs care, etc. She is a calm, collected entrepreneur who is on the other side of this learning curve.
Some they're born with, and some are learned. All of them are essential. These are the five characteristics of incredible leaders:
People are attracted to people who are positive and energizing. My personal daily mantra is get up, dress up, show up. That means get up early, dress the part, and, most importantly, show up with a great attitude.
At the end of the day, a leader is defined by the people who are signing up to follow, and if you don't have positive energy and vision, you're probably going to attract fewer followers. You get more flies with honey, right?
For younger entrepreneurs, this is often a really hard one. You feel like you need to have all the answers.
As you get more and more comfortable with yourself, you get more and more comfortable with saying that of course you don't have all the answers. Nobody should.
The best way to accomplish anything is to find people who are smarter than you and learn from them. The world is changing at a rapid, breakneck pace. To assume that you could possibly know everything or get everything right or not miss a moment is ridiculous.
The sooner you can admit that you don't have it all figured out, the better.
3. Deep resilience
You're going to face challenges, whether you're the next Elon Musk or opening your first Etsy shop.
Two weeks after having my first child, I went to a dinner about childhood development. I could barely get dressed, but I figured it was an interesting, timely event and I should attend. The specialist at the dinner quizzed us on the most important skill to teach a child and -- no surprise -- nearly everyone said resilience. The same holds true for entrepreneurs.
You're going to get knocked down more than you're going to get picked up. Having the skill set to not take that personally, and to not internalize criticism is critical. You have to truly feel confident even when things aren't going right in your business.
I'm not advocating blind resilience. When you get knocked down, you need the humility (see above) to ask why. What am I missing? What did I do wrong? Why aren't X, Y and Z working? Then, you retool while you get back up.
It's one thing to have an idea. You must be able to communicate that idea at scale to the masses, whether it's on social media, on your blog, at your team meeting, to investors or to the press.
One of your biggest jobs as a successful leader is to constantly communicate what you're doing, where you're going, why you're going there, and why it's exciting. If your public speaking skills aren't honed, like most aren't, now is the time to brush up on them.
Great leaders excel at managing themselves. Luckily for me, someone taught me early on that you can't manage others if you can't manage yourself.
How do I do that? I just recently upgraded my Fitbit to one that monitors my heart rate, which gives me a real sense of my stress. I clearly love data--and I swear, Fitbit doesn't pay me.
If you don't, here's what you can do: Get really clear on when you're exhausted, when you're under-slept, when you haven't exercised, and when you're dealing with something personal. Carve out time to take care of yourself during these times. You can't possibly have the energy, positivity, resilience, humility and vision it takes to lead a team, project, or company when you're personally struggling.
Leadership is a work in progress -- and so am I. Please share your own strategies. I'm always looking to improve, too!