Google Reveals 6 Attributes That Transform New Managers Into Great Leaders


How do you know that a manager is doing a great job?

Most companies capitalize on a 360-degree feedback mechanism to glean insights into the performance of an employee. But the problem is that much of that feedback only leads to cruel and non-constructive responses.

Which is why it gets difficult to grasp what is about to happen until the loss amplifies & gets out of hand. But what if you can train your new managers to cultivate habits which can help them become not just better managers but great leaders down the lane? Why not learn from the best? Forbes released a list of organizations with world’s best employees. And guess who came out on top?

Of course, it was Google. In the book “Work Rules!” Laszlo Bock, Head of People Operations talks about valuable advice on the company culture at Google. One takeaway was “Empower your team & don’t micromanage.” This sets a high bar for the managers.

In a survey conducted by Google – more than 10,000 managers were analyzed in Project Oxygen, and based upon that, there were six key attributes that Google instills in its managers:

1) Mindset & Values

In the wake of the research conducted by Dr. Carol Dweck – a professor of psychology at the Stanford University, Google follows and encourages its managers to inculcate a growth mindset in their charges as well.

One huge benefit of the growth mentality is that unlike the fixed mindset, people harboring this attitude are of the belief that intelligence can be cultivated. This ordinary idea is enough to let people grow and learn vigorously and challenge them to take calculated and high-end risks.

Furthermore, Google encourages its managers to nurture stellar company values and incorporate them into their management style. The purpose is not to force managers to set values for themselves, but instead, empower them to leverage individual values to create deeper meaning and impact in their work. When faced with tough decisions, managers can access these values to get right back on track.

2) Emotional Intelligence

In the book “The Google Guys”, author Richard L. Brandt talks about the hiring process at Google. In this, every candidate needs to go through a set of interviews, and one of them centers on testing their Emotional Intelligence (EI).

At Google, it is not just for the employees, it is a must for managers to keep their emotions in check as well. As all good decisions stem from managers who are self-aware and relaxed, Richard L. Brandt further argues that leadership is all about keeping a stable environment within the organization. And the impact is around 20-30% of organizational performance.

3) Manager Transition

If you peruse through Google’s new manager training guide, you’ll notice that there are some set patterns which you need to follow to make the transition from individual contributor to a manager. Here, the supervisors allow their employees to share their frustration & challenges with their peers.

In addition,  the managers are compelled to teach their peers that it is okay to fail and be vulnerable and honest. As managers, you are allowed to share stories. Stories that can inspire and motivate people to keep doing the good stuff. This approach helps employees cope up with the transition phobia.

4) Coaching

One thing that was prominent through Project Oxygen was the one quality which makes a manager truly great. Google defines good coaching as:

  • Timely & specific feedback
  • Giving harsh feedback in a constructive and thoughtful way
  • While giving feedback, communicating in a style that is preferred by the individual: one-to-one or even email.
  • All the managers need to be active listeners & being mindful.
  • Understanding the mindset of the employees and helping them deal with their personal and professional problems.
  • Asking open-ended questions in order to give room to the employee to speak their hearts out.

5) Feedback

Words of the manager can either build or destroy. Google knows the sensitivity of this and coaches its managers to stay consistent while giving feedback to their employees. They should learn the art of keeping a balance between positive and negative feedback. Authenticity is the key, so is truthfulness. Google leverages Manager Feedback survey tool to gather insights pertinent to their managers. You can tailor this tool to make your own.

6) Decision-making

To make sure that your judgment doesn’t get clouded, Google has developed a routine to assist managers in making better decisions. The framework includes asking some direct questions, such as:

  • Is everyone on the same page?
  • Why is this important? (Does it help achieve any business goal?)
  • Who is the ultimate decision-maker?
  • How will the execution be done?
  • When is the expected timeframe for taking this decision?

Apart from these six points, Google gives a freehand to managers and encourages them to bring new ideas to the table. In fact, managers are rewarded for any idea that can save time and help with the execution of a project.

While these might seem like simple attributes, according to an article in NY Times, the performance of managers who followed these attributes actually improved to a whopping 75%.