Three features of successful CEO and founder teams

There’s an interesting post up on Venturebeat this morning suggesting that investors can find all they need to know about a startup by observing a product meeting. Good investing is a little bit more complicated than that, looking at market size and competition is also important, for example, but there are some great points made.

Rather than think of them as due diligence points I think it’s better to understand them as cultural guides, and in that spirit I’ve turned them into three recommendations for how the team should operate:

  1. Build a culture where the team comes agreement and respect that agreement. Tension, one-upmanship, brinksmanship, differences in vision or strategy, holding grudges and revisiting decisions are cancerous in a startup and need ironing out or eliminating.
  2. Founders and CEOs should be open to discussing any and all aspects of their business. Decisions have to be made and respected (as per 1.) but all options should be on the table at the start. Willingness to discuss different ideas shows strength and leads to better decision making.
  3. The CEO must be respected as the sole leader, otherwise the strategy and vision are likely to veer off course from one day to another, at least in elements of detail. This needs special attention when there are multiple founders.

These things are easily said, but difficult in practice. They require a high level of self-awareness and a willingness to enter into difficult conversations addressing power, status, and ultimately security within the company. Great founders embrace difficult challenges.