A few days ago I got into a conversation about what makes for a great founding team. Of course, we hit the normal topics like passion, resourcefulness, and vision. Then, I heard it summarized in a way I hadn’t heard before: amazing founding teams have high EQ (emotional quotient), high IQ (intelligence quotient), and a strong work ethic. Now, if the founders have all three characteristics, that’s incredible, but founding teams typically have more variability around EQ, and, ideally, all have high IQs and a strong work ethic.
Here are a few thoughts on each:
- High EQ – Excellent soft skills are critically important, especially for founders that are in an executive role with direct reports. Leading other people isn’t easy, and there are many fuzzy, human elements that are difficult to master.
- High IQ – Smarts. Understanding how to build things and being able to ask the right questions is hard. While it isn’t a requirement to be the smartest person in the room, it’s still important for founders, especially technical founders, to have a high IQ. In fact, it takes a level of intelligence to realize someone else is smarter, and to create an environment where each new hire raises the IQ of the whole company.
- Strong Work Ethic – With high EQ and IQ, the final piece of the equation is a strong work ethic. I’ve seen teams out-execute much more heavily funded competitors because they worked harder and smarter. No matter how much talent a team has, a tremendous amount of effort is required for success.
The next time you meet a team of entrepreneurs, evaluate where they fit on the EQ, IQ, and work ethic scale. If they have all three, the chance of success increases dramatically.
What else? What are some more thoughts on high EQ, high IQ, and strong work ethic as key founding team characteristics?