WWE CEO Vince McMahon, Paul "Triple H" Levesque, and Shane McMahon speak to Army Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Troxell.

3 Leadership Traits That Made Vince McMahon Unstoppable (and What Entrepreneurs Can Learn)

Vince McMahon rejoined the World Wrestling Entertainment at the start of the new year, just six months after stepping down as chairman and CEO. And on the same weekend as his tentpole event, WrestleMania 39, McMahon and WWE have stolen the spotlight.

Endeavor Group Holdings and WWE announced April 3 an agreement to form a new, publicly listed company consisting of two “iconic, complementary” global sports and entertainment brands: UFC and WWE.

Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel will serve as CEO and will also continue in the same role at the remaining Endeavor business, which includes talent agency WME. McMahon, the WWE executive chairman and majority shareholder, will serve as executive chairman of the newly created company.

WWE has been around for over 50 years and the McMahon’s family’s roots in pro wrestling date back a century. This company has been Vince’s baby since 1982, the year he began to turn the carnival world of pro wrestling into “sports entertainment.”

McMahon “retired” from his posts back in July, one month following reports of sexual misconduct that resulted in non-disclosure settlements he failed to disclose as the leader of a public company.

Putting aside the moral quandaries and legal predicaments McMahon and WWE have faced over the years, the 77-year-old is, if nothing else, a symbol of how to succeed in America in large part by force of will.

Business consultant Joel Roberts previously laid out 10 Leadership Traits Entrepreneurs Should Possess. Let’s break down a few in the context of McMahon’s career.

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3 Leadership Traits That Made Vince McMahon Unstoppable

Be a doer. An entrepreneur … is also ready to roll up his or her sleeves and ready to do the work.

McMahon started working for his father’s World Wide Wrestling Federation in 1969 as a ring announcer. He would hold various promotional roles over the next decade before founding Titan Sports, planting the seeds for the eventual takeover of his father’s company.

Be a good example. Startup leadership entrepreneurs must be able to lead his or her business by example… His or her work ethic must encourage others to follow his or her lead.

Behind the scenes, McMahon is well-known in the industry for a restless work schedule, oftentimes only sleeping for a couple of hours a night.

On screen, McMahon is willing to humiliate himself for the sake of entertainment and has stressed he wouldn’t make any wrestler do something he wouldn’t do. One recent example involved NFL legend Rob Gronkowski.

The former tight end got involved in a match during the company’s flagship WrestleMania event. His key stunt? Jumping 15 feet off a platform. To help ease his mind, McMahon showed Gronk how it’s done.

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Take calculated risks. A successful entrepreneur knows how and when to take calculated risks.

WWE’s WrestleMania is approaching its 40th anniversary, but the company may not even exist today had McMahon not taken a massive gamble.

The inaugural WrestleMania took place in 1985 inside Madison Square Garden. In addition to wrestlers like Hulk Hogan, McMahon brought in Mr. T, Cyndi Lauper, Muhammad Ali and several other celebrities. The event was cross-promoted with MTV; Hogan and Mr. T even hosted “Saturday Night Live” the night before.

It was a roll of the dice. Would fans watch in an arena and pay a lot of money to do it?” McMahon said decades later.

The event was a huge success, as 19,000 fans packed MSG and more than 1 million watched on closed circuit television (a precursor to what would become pay-per-view).

A version of this article was originally published in January 2023.

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