The ‘boring’ trait Google looks for in its leaders
“The prototypical leader is a hero: gives the rousing speech, inspires the troops and shows up at the last minute to save the day. At least that’s how leaders are portrayed. but that’s not at all what Google discovered as their most important qualities.
At Google, they’re obsessive about looking at data to determine what makes employees successful and what they found in the numbers was surprising. The most important character trait of a leader is one that you’re more likely to associate with a dull person than a dynamic leader: predictability. The more predictable you are, day after day, the better. …
Taking an evidence-based approach rather than a gut-driven one, Google debunks conventional wisdom on how to build an awesome team. Twice a year, anyone who has a manager gets to review their boss in an “upward feedback survey,” considering performance across 12 to 18 different factors. So Google has reams of data, tens of thousands of data points of on-the-job success, to understand what it should look for in new hires.
When Google crunched the numbers on the question of what makes a successful leader, what it found out was remarkable for its overlooked common sense. Leaders must be predictable and consistent, because then employees grasp ‘that within certain parameters, they can do whatever they want.’ … ‘[i]f your manager is all over the place, you’re never going to know what you can do, and you’re going to experience it as very restrictive.’
As Laszlo Bock, senior vice president of people operations at Google put it, ‘[i]f a leader is consistent, people on their teams experience tremendous freedom.’ The freedom that a consistent leader provides is a powerful force because having autonomy over one’s work is one of the most potent motivators of personal productivity.”