A Blog by Jonathan Low


Jul 17, 2019

Google Spent A Decade Researching the 'Perfect Manager:' Top Ten Leadership Traits

The perfect may be the enemy of the good, but leaders can optimize performance with this list. JL

Justin Bariso reports in Inc:

Technical skill mattered less than you might guess. Far more important were emotional-intelligence skills, the ability to understand and control emotions, both their own and those of their people. The skills: Is a good coach; collaborates effectively; empowers team and does not micromanage; creates an inclusive team environment showing concern for success and well-being; is productive and results oriented; is a good communicator - listens and shares information; supports career development and discusses performance; has a clear vision and strategy for the team; has key technical skills to help advise team; is a strong decision maker.
A company could spend all the money it wants recruiting, interviewing, and hiring the best people around. But if the boss is a jerk, those people will leave the first chance they get.
In contrast, if you have great managers and team leads, not only will you get the best out of your people, but they'll also be more likely to stick around.
For over 10 years, Google has conducted research under the code name Project Oxygen. The goal? Figuring out what makes the perfect manager, so it could train its leaders to develop those behaviors. The research has paid off, as over the years Google has seen marked improvement in employee turnover, satisfaction, and performance.
Interestingly, technical skill mattered much less than you might guess. What was far more important for managers were emotional-intelligence skills, the ability to understand and control emotions, both their own and those of their people.
According to Google, a good boss ...
Rather than solve every problem as soon as it arises, the best managers use problems as teaching moments.
They guide their teams and share insights when needed. This allows their team to gain valuable experience and grow.
"I love to be micromanaged," said no employee, ever.
In contrast, great managers give their people the freedom they crave: freedom to explore their ideas, to take (smart) risks, and to make mistakes. They also provide the physical tools their people need, and allow for flexible schedules and working environments.
In another research project, Google discovered that the single greatest key to a team's performance was creating a "psychologically safe" environment.
As Google puts it:
In a team with high psychological safety, teammates feel safe to take risks around their team members. They feel confident that no one on the team will embarrass or punish anyone else for admitting a mistake, asking a question, or offering a new idea.
In other words, great teams thrive on trust — and great managers help build that trust.
The best managers are more than star players — they make their teammates better, too.
They do so by setting the right example and getting down and dirty whenever necessary. They're not afraid to roll up their sleeves and help out, and that motivates their team.
The best managers are great listeners. This helps them to better understand their teams, and show appropriate empathy.
Additionally, good managers realize knowledge is power. That's why they are transparent and willing to share information with their teams, so their people know the "why" behind the "what."
Great managers encourage their people by sharing sincere and specific praise. But they aren't afraid to share critical feedback, too — making sure to frame it in a way that is both tactful and constructive.
They also invest in their people by helping them reach their personal career goals. By doing so, they naturally motivate their teams to give back.
Great managers know exactly where the team is right now, where they are headed, and what they need to do to get there. Through good communication, they help keep the team on track.
They also make sure each team member understands their individual role in executing that strategy.
Great managers understand the jobs of their people, including their everyday tasks and challenges.
If the manager is moved into a new department, he or she will take time to get to know how things are done, and work to build trust before making drastic changes or offering advice.
Bad managers view their team as a silo, working against or even sabotaging other teams within the same company.
In contrast, great managers see the big picture. They work for the good of the company as a whole, and encourage their teams to do the same.
Great managers aren't impulsive, but they are decisive. After getting to know the facts and considering the thoughts and perspectives of their teams, they move things forward — even if that requires making a decision not everyone will approve of.
Then, they commit to those decisions.
If your company can train and promote managers who do these 10 things, you'll build trust and inspire your people to become the best versions of themselves.
They'll follow, not because they have to. But because they want to.


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