New Google research uncovers the leadership habits of effective founders

16 Jun 2022

Image: © Gorodenkoff/

With half of start-ups potentially failing due to people problems, Google looked into the leadership habits of successful founders.

The team at Google for Startups has been looking into the topic of leadership and how a founder’s people skills can make or break a new business.

Researchers took a look at more than 900 start-up founders, CEOs and CTOs across more than 40 countries. They assessed different leadership strategies to better understand what is meant by effective leadership.

The researchers published their findings in a report titled The Effective Founders Project, which contains detailed analysis, examples of good leadership strategies and tips for founders.

These tips focus mainly on people issues faced by founders and how they can overcome these issues to be effective leaders. According to research at Harvard, Stanford and the University of Chicago, 55pc of start-ups fail due to people problems.

Based on what Google researchers observed, the most effective founders have the following habits when dealing with people:

  • They treat people like volunteers
  • They protect their team from distraction
  • They minimise unnecessary micromanagement
  • They invite disagreement
  • They preserve interpersonal equity
  • They keep pace with expertise
  • They overcome discouragement

Google is not the only company doing research into how leadership skills affect a start-up’s future success.

A Barcelona-based consultancy for start-ups is calling on entrepreneurs from around the world to participate in research it is carrying out on what makes a great founder.

Wavveup has developed an assessment designed to evaluate and improve entrepreneurial performance. It is offering founders from around the world the chance to participate for free in what would normally be a fee-based service.

It is partnering with US research centre for start-ups, Blackhawke Behavior Science, to run a pilot programme. It will then publish a research paper sharing its findings.

For the assessment to be effective, participating founders should have at least five evaluators, such as peers, investors or direct reports. They will be asked questions about their start-up’s vision, strategy, problem-solving and decision-making, execution and operations, innovation, resourcefulness, collaboration and allyship, direction, influence, self-discipline, intensity and tenacity.

It will also evaluate participants based on ethical leadership, integrity and coachability. Following the evaluation, each founder will receive a personalised report.

To register for the assessment, you can fill out an online form.

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Blathnaid O’Dea was a Careers reporter at Silicon Republic until 2024.