His wife was better known to the general public than he was, to the point that when he died, the headlines largely read things like, "Facebook Exec and 'Lean In' Author Sheryl Sandberg's husband dies."

But Dave Goldberg, the CEO of SurveyMonkey who died while on vacation in Mexico last month, was a very successful entrepreneur and CEO in his own right.

"He was not only a great boss, which many can confirm, but he was also a visionary on a new, better way to build a high-tech business," Will Wagner, the company's VP of engineering, wrote on TechCrunch recently. "A lot of young entrepreneurs think a CEO should be like Steve Jobs. In my opinion, you would be much better served emulating Dave."

SurveyMonkey had "started in 1999 and remained small for a decade," according to The New York Times. The company had just been acquired by private equity investors when Goldberg took over as CEO in 2009, and had just 14 employees.

But since then, the company has grown exponentially, with 550 employees (more than 200 of whom attended Goldberg's memorial service), $113 million in revenue, and a recent valuation during its latest round of funding that put the company at $1.35 billion.

Goldberg was just 47, and his death came as a shock--to the point that the company had only a "broad strokes" succession plan, according to the Times. As those in the company mourned, and as a high-level executive from GoPro came in as an interim chief executive, rival firms tried to hire away key employees.

So far, however, not a single person has left, according to the company's head of human resources. That might have something to do with the qualities and culture Goldberg left behind.

Here are seven key leadership traits that Goldberg possessed and that aspiring entrepreneurs should emulate, adapted from Wagner's tribute. You can read the entire article here.

1. Respect

Treat everyone who works for you with fairness. This sounds like a no-brainer, and yet how many busy leaders don't always live up to it? For a quick example, you just have to look as far as the reports about the J. Crew executive who allegedly posted mocking photos on Instagram hours after laying off employees.

2. Transparency

Goldberg never had his own office, and strived to be as open and transparent with his team as possible, Wagner wrote. Doing so means "you'll get more ideas and feedback, make better decisions, and have a work force that believes in what they are doing."

3. Diversity

"There are more female executives here than any other place I've worked," Wagner wrote. "It turns out, unsurprisingly, that there is a lot of talent in Silicon Valley that isn't under 25, white, and male. It also turns out that there are plenty of other people who want to learn and be mentored by an experienced team that is diverse."

4. Balance

While Goldberg's wife, Sandberg, wrote a controversial and popular book about work-life balance, Wagner said it was important to Goldberg too: "Healthy, well-rested employees produce more at a higher level of quality, stay with their company longer, and are more likely to recruit other high-functioning colleagues."

5. Investment

Goldberg recognized that if you treat employees as commodities, they won't be as personally invested in the company. He was big on promoting from within as part of his commitment, Wagner wrote. "Give your team the ability to grow. Take a chance on them and root for them to succeed," he said. "Hold them to a high standard but assume the best."

6. Caring

Among the less-heralded examples here was the degree to which Goldberg tried to protect his employees' equity, Wagner wrote. Goldberg "worked tirelessly on behalf of employees to limit dilution and to make sure employees were getting treated well."

7. Confidence

Goldberg would have been in the top tier of Silicon Valley CEOs, but there is no getting away from the fact that his wife was more famous than he was. Goldberg embraced the fact that he was as well-known for who he was married to as for his own accomplishments.

"She was part of his life story and part of who he was," Wagner said. "Being a leader isn't about taking credit or soaking up the limelight; it's about living a genuine life, solving problems for your team and your company, and being proud of the people you surround yourself with." 

Published on: Jun 22, 2015
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