What Research From Google Can Teach Us About Great Leadership


6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Back in 2008, a team of researchers at Google started a fascinating project called Project Oxygen, in order to determine the qualities of their highest-performing managers. Recently, that team updated its research and modified and added some qualities. Here is that more recent list of the top behaviors of Google’s best managers:

  1. Is a good coach
  2. Empowers team and does not micromanage
  3. Creates an inclusive team environment, showing concern for success and well-being
  4. Is productive and results-oriented
  5. Is a good communicator — listens and shares information
  6. Supports career development and discusses performance
  7. Has a clear vision/strategy for the team
  8. Has key technical skills to help advise the team
  9. Collaborates across Google
  10. Is a strong decision-maker

Related: 4 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Gain More Leadership Training

Google is one of the most successful companies in the world. So, as a smart leader in an organization, the question you may want to think about is, how can this list help you in your organization today? I believe there are several ways this information can be transformational for your organization:

Provide leadership training. 

I was once facilitating a leadership program for a client in West Virginia. I asked one of the managers how long he had been a manager. He said “about ten years” and added that he had 20 direct reports. When I asked how much training he had been given on leadership skills,he said that “this” was the first time he had had any leadership training. That shocked me.

In fact, it is a sad fact that we do our managers and supervisors a great disservice by not providing them with the skills they need to be successful. We assume they “know how.” Yet, while someone may be a good employee, once he or she is promoted, that promotion doesn’t mean this person automatically knows how to coach or empower or communicate effectively.

Think about this: All of the qualities on the list are not personal characteristics but skills that can be learned or improved. So it is not a surprise that when Google provided training on the needed leadership skills, the company saw an improvement in turnover, employee satisfaction and performance over time. 

Many companies, such as SAS, Amazon, Bonobos, Goldman Sachs, Enterprise and Marriott invest time and money in training and developing leadership skills. Pilot Flying J is another, perhaps less famous, company that operates truck stops and travel plazas across America and invests significantly in training time with its managers. According to Glassdoor, participants in Pilot Flying J’s management development program go through a management-training program, during which they work with top-performing management teams to “learn everything, from operating a POS system to reading financial reports.”

Afterward, participants are assigned to a permanent location in which they will receive ongoing development training. The company also offers programs and courses through “Pilot Flying J University,” with special tracks for general managers, operations designates, recent college grads and more. 

As leadership development expert and book author Warren Bennis once said, “The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born — that there is a genetic factor to leadership. This myth asserts that people simply either have certain charismatic qualities or not. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.”

Set expectations.

Another area to take a hard look at is expectations. In a study by Gallup, only about half of all workers surveyed “strongly” indicated that they knew what was expected of them at work. The research suggested that setting clear expectations might be the most foundational element for employee engagement. As Gallup research stated, “All workers, regardless of age or stage in their career, want to know what’s expected of them in the workplace. The lack of clear expectations can cause anxiety and confusion in workers.”

If this is indeed the case, the critical questions you might want to ask are:

  • Do the managers in your organization know what is expected of them?
  • Do they know what is expected of them regarding how they lead their team?
  • Has that been communicated?
  • Are they engaging employees?
  • Do their direct reports understand what is expected of them?
  • Do you talk about this with the teams ar work?

Related: Why You Need to Invest in a Leadership Development Program

I meet many stressed-out people across the country who don’t know what is expected of them because it has never been discussed, set up or communicated.

Do an employee survey.

The list of qualities of great Google managers was the result of an employee survey. It is a solid list, and I’m sure most of the leadership qualities apply to every organization. Who after all doesn’t long for a manager who is an excellent communicator?

That being said, these qualities may not all apply to your organization. There may be some company culture variables to consider. So, do a survey of employees and find out what your most successful leaders are doing to be effective; then see if those actions match the Google list’s. Find out what is working in your organization with managers and supervisors. The answers may raise questions that haven’t been addressed before.

Measure.

An important issue to think about is how to measure the effectiveness of your managers. If you have clear leadership expectations, then you can look at how they are meeting them. You can look at financial metrics like sales, revenue and profit. We can sometimes assume we are meeting those metrics because our people are satisfied at work (although there are exceptions, of course)

At the same time, we can look at other non-financial metrics like turnover, morale, customer service and productivity. The best way to measure is to continually watch, observe and talk with people one-on-one to see how they are doing. The quantitative and qualitative clues are there. You just have to pay attention.  As founder of Microsoft Bill Gates once said, “In business, the idea of measuring what you are doing, picking the measurements that count like customer satisfaction and performance… you thrive on that.”

Related: The 12 Most Important Things I’ve Learned About Leadership

If you can benchmark your leadership to that of other world-class organizations and learn how they lead, you will raise the bar in your organization and perhaps even become world-class yourself. As President John Kennedy once said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”   

Source link

more recommended stories

  • Why Diversity Is the Secret to This Talent Agency’s Influencer-Based Approach

    This founder talks about catapulting into.

  • How to Handle Difficult People (and Still Achieve Your Business Goals)

    A founder’s guide to effectively utilizing.

  • 6 Tips From a Clean Beauty Entrepreneur

    Sarah Biggers went from a newbie.

  • Explaining the Benefits of Cannabis to Your Grandma

    Future studies are still needed, but.

  • 9 Ways to Handle Job-Related Stress From Dawn to Dusk

    It’s all in a day’s work..

  • Want to Become a Better Communicator? Learn to Listen.

    Cross-check your own habits with these.

  • How a Terrible Motorcycle Accident Led to a Business Built on Relieving Pain

    Dr. Jason Wersland describes his invention,.

  • Upgrade Your Facebook Marketing Efforts With This Course

    Get ahead of the competition with.

  • Success Lies in the Subtleties, and Every Second Counts

    John K. Coyle, discusses why a.

  • Entrepreneurship Often Involves Uncertainty. Here’s How to Deal With It Productively.

    The future may be unknowable, but.

  • How to Use Your Calendar Like GPS

    This author breaks down how he.

  • Here’s How to Reduce the Cost of Cannabis for Consumers

    Consumers could be saving money while.

  • 6 AI Tools Entrepreneurs Can Use on a Budget

    Countless businesses are already taking advantage.

  • 4 Things Your Team Manifesto Must Spotlight

    Done well, and this mother of.

  • ‘Why Can’t I Focus?’ Here’s What the Science Says.

    August 16, 2019 1 min read.

  • Taking on a Much Bigger Rival in a Hyper-Competitive Segment? Try a Move From This Playbook.

    Mazda’s North American president explains how.

  • How to Make PR Work For You

    Here are the decisive factors you.

  • Why Your Business Growth Depends on IT Infrastructure

    Success only evolves if company tech.

  • How to Turn Your Biggest Fear Into Your (Career) Superpower

    Negative beliefs can derail success, but.

  • Use This Secret Military Trick to Tell if Someone Is Lying

    January 30, 2019 5 min read.

  • This High-Performance Psychologist Explains How to Push the Boundaries of Human Potential

    Dr. Michael Gervais’ client roster includes.

  • The Rise of Impostor Entrepreneurs

    It’s not only easier to steal.

  • What This Defense Consultant Learned From His Felony Conviction

    Justin Paperny served 18 months in.

  • How to Get a Book Contract From a Legitimate Publisher

    It could be the key to.

  • How Self-Driving Cars Could Shape Our Future

    Once challenges are surmounted, the world.

  • This is Weed You Can Wear

    Double Barrel Chief Brand Officer Ann.

  • If You Love Doing Something, Chances Are That Other People Do, Too. Here’s How to Start an Experience-Based Business.

    Catch the trend of entrepreneurs starting.

  • This Latina Ganjapreneur Is Making Sure That Women Aren’t Overlooked

    Priscilla Vilchis was the first Latina.

  • Nobody Will Take Care of Your Money Better Than You

    Troy Murphy, founder of Sweven Wealth.

  • Barstool's Dynamic Duo Bonds Over 'Beatz N Eats'

    Willie Colon and Large, co-hosts of.

  • What Millennials Really Want From Weed

    Cy Scott of Headset Inc. joins.

  • 7 Ways to Learn From Difficult Conversations

    Uncomfortable encounters can actually help open.