What Google Learned Studying Top Founders

Google released a blog going over what they learned studying the most influential founders, but they’re missing something very important.


The Breakdown

Google recently released a blog post written by Martin Gonzalez, a portfolio lead, and Josh Yellin, the chief of staff. It was going over a study of over 900 CEOs and CTOs across more than 40 countries involved in google for startups.

Google wanted to learn what made leaders great. Here is a summary of what they found, but I highly recommend looking at the entire study.


They noticed that people problems were the number one risk for funded startups.

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So what do top leaders do to manage people? Well, Google found seven common things all top leaders do.


Treat people like volunteers.

The best people want to do great work for a challenging, meaningful mission. Inspiring your team with purpose gives you a chance to hire and retain the best talent.

Protect the team from distractions.

While CEOs are often seen as distracted by new ideas, the best ones create focus and clarity on what really matters. Set clear goals and priorities to build momentum for your team.

Minimize unnecessary micromanagement.

The most effective leaders aim to delegate work in order to grow both themselves and their businesses. Our data suggests micromanaging can be a major derailer, especially for CEOs.

Invite disagreement.

Founders consistently undervalue inviting opinions that are different from their own, while cofounders and teammates rate it highly. Yet some studies have shown that though it might not always feel that way, disagreement among diverse teams actually leads to more effective outcomes.

Preserve interpersonal equity.

Violated expectations are the main source of conflict among cofounders. The most effective cofounders openly discuss and document what they expect from each other and constantly check for what we call “interpersonal equity.”

Keep pace with expertise.

While you can’t be an expert in everything, leaders need to know enough about each role to hire the right people and help develop their team.

Overcome discouragement.

While most people would expect self-confidence to grow with time, our data suggests the most effective founders are not nearly as confident as the least effective founders are. Seek out a support system, focus on the positive, and know-how to ask for help when you need it.


What Google Left Out

I love this study. It’s full of amazing insights and every founder needs to read the full study. That said, I wish Google had more information on what the worst founders do. Or the commonalities between all the organizations that failed.

I know talking about failure can be negative, but I think it’s essential to have an open mind and take an objective look at failures, not just successes.

Some of my best learnings in life came from failures.

Google states in this study that the least effective founders are usually the most confident. I would like to know why that is?

This study comes strictly from the point of view that top founders manage people in a certain way. But there’s no doubt the product or service could play a part in how founders manage their team, and not all founders are equal. How do things like stamina, grit, and pure work ethic play into their success?


Those are some things I would be interested in learning. But overall, this is a great study, and I hope to see more things like this in the future.

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