All Effective Leaders Perform These 7 Activities, according to Google study of 900 founders

People issues are the biggest risk to funded startups.

55% of startups fail because of people problems, according to a study by Harvard, Stanford, and University of Chicago researchers1. We put the most effective founders under a microscope to understand their strengths —and biggest potential blind spots.

Google for Startups has completed a thorough study examining the characteristics of the most successful founders.

Not only when it comes to developing its own products and consumer goods, but also when it comes to designing its company, Google is renowned for its love of data. Google has widely publicised internal studies into what attributes lead to a successful management, team, and even employment interview process.

The Google for Startups division, which supports high-growth startups, has recently started to focus on founders. Google was interested in learning what characteristics an effective startup leader possesses given that more than half of businesses fail due to personnel issues.

The company’s researchers conducted interviews with more than 900 startup executives in more than 40 countries to determine this. The latest Effective Founders Project report from Google for Startups contains the findings of the extensive data collection effort. The comprehensive report is certainly worth reading in its entirety, but the key insight is that all successful company executives share seven crucial characteristics.

Seven ways to become a more effective founder

1. Treat people like volunteers

The best people are like volunteers —they’ll work passionately for a hard, meaningful mission. They also have options. As the adage goes, people leave bosses, not companies. Create a talent monopoly by understanding the psychology of your employees.

2. Protect the team from distractions

While founders are typically seen as distracted by new ideas, the best ones create focus and clarity. Set clear goals and priorities to build momentum for your team, which in turn fuels better performance and morale.

3. Preserve interpersonal equity

Violated expectations are the main source of conflict. The most effective cofounders openly discuss and document what they expect from each other and constantly check for interpersonal equity—do both of you feel that expectations are fair?

4. Invite disagreement

You want a conflict of ideas, not personalities. Our data suggests that founders consistently undervalue giving teams an opportunity to voice their opinions, while employees value it highly. Encourage open team dialogues early and often.

5. Minimize unnecessary micromanagement

While data shows micromanaging can be helpful in certain situations, the most effective leaders aim to delegate work in order to scale both themselves and their businesses. Our data suggests that micromanaging can be a fatal flaw for CEOs.

6. Keep pace with expertise

Leaders need to know enough about each role to hire the right people and help develop their team. 93% of the most effective founders have the technical expertise to effectively manage the work.

7. Overcome discouragement

While most would expect self-confidence to grow with time, Googles data suggests that the most effective founders are not nearly as confident as the least effective. Build a support system and know how to ask for help in order to overcome doubt.


Access The Full Google “The Effective Founders Project Report”


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