What Google defines as strong leadership

For every new hire at Google, leadership is one of four key skills that is assessed. Leadership is important even for talents not applying directly to a managerial role. It is key to be able to manage a project, but further down the career the candidate may be exposed to leadership roles, says Martin Eriksson, who has a long career at Google. He is now based in Stockholm, but he has worked for Google at their HQ in California as well in their European headquarter in Ireland

Often the training departments of international organizations try to help managers improve their competencies -- traits of good managers. Often very labor intensive and  expensive projects, but Google’s data metrics show that changing traits rarely works. Instead Google chose to teach managers what to do.

What Google defines as strong leadership is based on a famous internal project - the Project Oxygen. This project was designed to identify what successful Google managers do.

The Project Oxygen was an internal team that spent one year data-mining performance appraisals, employee surveys and other available  sources. The research team received an extensive data volume and complemented the quantitative data with qualitative information from interviews.

The interviews were mapped using standard behavioral science methodologies. The final result was eight behaviors -- things great managers do that make them great. They are, in order of importance:

  1. Be a good coach.

  2. Empower; don't micromanage.

  3. Be interested in direct reports, success and well-being.

  4. Be productive and results-oriented.

  5. Be a good communicator and listen to your team.

  6. Help your employees with career development.

  7. Have a clear vision and strategy for the team.

  8. Have key technical skills so you can advise the team.

All these behaviors have one thing in common -- the manager should be deeply committed to short- and long-term employee success. As they say in the military, "Love your soldiers."

Leadership is one of four dimensions that all candidates being interviewed by Google are assessed against. Read more here if you are curious to learn more about Google’s recruitment process and their recruitment dimensions. Maybe Google’s leadership definition and eight behaviours could be something that International organizations adopt.

Related reading: Interested to read what International Organizations cam learn from Google's recruitmen process?