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How to hire a successful leadership team

Deanna Pogorelc

Aside from having a decent idea, what’s the most important component of a successful startup? According to Bill Gross, the founder and CEO of Idealab, it’s having complementary skills on the leadership team. In this lecture from the Stanford ECorner, he outlines four personality types that should be present at every company.

Startups begin with the entrepreneur, the far-sighted individual who loves to invent new things and think ahead of the times. If that entrepreneur isn’t also a producer – meaning he’s good at executing and getting the product into the customers’ hands – his first hire should be someone who is.

Then comes the administrator, someone who puts systems in place to ensure smooth workflow. The last, but definitely not least important, personality type is the integrator, or the “people person” who understands the three other types and helps them get along.

“One of the things that I wish I had learned…was what this ‘I’ skill even was,” he says. “I never had a class on how to do the conflict resolution between people when they were having problems or even to see good ways of giving people feedback. That’s a very valuable skill to make a successful company.”

While no person is entirely one of these types, everyone is dominant in at least one area, Gross says. Having all of them present, and in the right balance, is key to an early-stage company’s success. “I even think this is more important than having a decent idea,” he says, “because this team working together can take a not-too-decent idea and turn it into a decent idea.”

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