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March 18, 2011 | cwinters

Can Leadership be Google-ized?

Google is an organization at a crossroads. Like most tech darlings, they began with a game-changing outward focus, grew exponentially, and suddenly found the world had changed due to the rise of a new darling. No longer trendy, Google quickly found itself as the tech version of a pashmina – you still love ‘em, and use ‘em, but you sort of take them for granted.

Google’s solution? Look inward. Take Google’s famous, analytical, algorithmed expertise inward in an effort to grow better managers, and create a culture that will work for the larger, more mature organization. They’ve identified the 8 qualities they need in their leaders, ranked them and implemented quarterly reviews to see how their managers are performing.

One great take-away – we often give our employees a long list of what is important, with no prioritization….faced with too many things to think about, they become paralyzed. This is why so many culture initiatives suffer from “organ rejection” in the organization. At Google, they were placing the greatest value for leaders on the quality that employees valued the least – technical, code-writing expertise. The moral of that story – even engineers want someone who will talk to them.

But can people be algorithmed? In an engineering-centric organization full of analytical thinkers like Google, the answer may be yes. And I think all leaders appreciate clarity around how they will be judged, and a road map to success. And leadership transitions are a good time to look at culture – you are presented with an opportunity to refresh the organization’s priorities and common goals.

Will it be enough to get Google out-innovating the market again, providing growth in its mature business? If Google had the algorithm for that, we wouldn’t be reading about their leadership initiatives…we’d be reading about their new, game changing innovations.

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