Can you build a better boss? According to the brilliant minds at Google, you can. It’s odd because I personally thought that Apple would beat Google to the punch on this one (i.e. iBoss) I am sure as we speak, the big brains/egos down at 1 Infinite Loop are being told by their perfect boss to come up with the perfect boss. But I digress.
The New York Times’ Adam Bryant recently reported on Google’s Project Oxygen. Bryant explains that starting in 2009 Google “began analyzing performance reviews, feedback surveys and nominations for top-manager awards.” From this information “…they correlated phrases, words, praise and complaints” to come up with their Eight Habits of Highly Effective Google Managers.
Since Google has attempted to reinvent the wheel (and succeeded) over the past few years, you might be expecting some ground breaking and life changing stuff to be on this management list. Gems like “Take this green pill and you will become the world’s greatest leader” or “stop using Bing, it will kill you”. Sadly, this is not the case (I am not 100% sure about the Bing thing, but I am guessing you will be fine). Instead, the list is filled with common sense ideas such as:
1. Be a good coach
2. Empower your team and don’t micromanage
3. Express interests in team members success and personal well being
4. Don’t be a sissy: 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 help advise the team
Nothing earth shattering here, but after reading this list I bet you can find a few that you (or your boss) fail to do on a daily basis. And therein lies the rub: leaders today are ignoring the obvious.
After decades of convoluted leadership training, bosses and the bossed are confused and lost. Did we really need a detailed statistical study to tell us that it’s a swell idea to “be a good communicator and listen to your team”? I guess we do, because we are so bogged down by leadership mantras and how-to-lead books (type leadership books into Amazon and you get 57,602 results) that we don’t know which way is up.
The fine people at Google spent untold amounts of time to create a list that basically is telling us, “don’t be a jerk, don’t be stupid, and get your head out of your backside”. The sad part is that we needed them to do so.
What do you think? Did you need to be told how to lead? Or for that matter did you need to be called a sissy by a bunch of four-eyed geeks? (full disclosure, I am wearing thick glasses and writing a blog so…)