As business leaders, we are probably always reading up about leadership, strategy, and ideas for becoming better at our leadership roles. At least, this is what we need to do as business leaders – have an unquenchable thirst for learning, knowledge, and constant improvement. While reading books and a gazillion blogs posts and articles online, it is easy for us to overlook an obvious guru of sorts. For me, Google has been an unexpectedly good guru for learning the ropes about leadership and professionalism.
So why is Google a leadership guru? Google does things that we can observe and replicate to create success for ourselves and our companies. The following leadership lessons have been proven to drive higher value to the Google business. These can be replicated for our own personal brand management and company improvement. Here are nine principles that I learned from Google:
Google Leadership Lesson 9:Birds of a Feather Flock Together
The ninth Google principle is the old “Birds of a Feather” proverb. Google is known to recruit the best and brightest people into the company and then provide its employees with a competitive and safe environment where the popular “Google culture” can flourish further. We can learn so much from this principle about our personal and company brands. The people we decide to be around will influence our futures. The mentors in our lives, the spouses we choose, the roommates in college – all of these decisions regarding people will directly influence our current and future brands. This simple saying holds so much knowledge for our recruiting philosophy, culture creation, customers we acquire, etc. As leaders, we should understand that the brightest folks in the world want to work and compete with and among each other. When we begin to build our teams, it is important to remember that every hire over the course of time will develop into some type of flock.
If we have recruited bright, committed, out-of-the-box thinkers into our businesses, other similar “birds” just like the folks in our businesses will want to join. They will see the energy and creativity, and it will draw other creative energetic birds like a moth to a flame. We should desire to be around, recruit, work for, and lead the types of people that challenge and motivate us. New ideas are often brought about by standing on the shoulders of the giants beside us; therefore shouldn’t we surround ourselves with giants that challenge our rigor and raise our personal bars? As a leader, has your company recruited a status quo flock or a fleet of giants? Are there one or two birds that are bringing down the flock? Do we have people in our lives that tend to bring out the best or worst in us? What flock do you want to be a part of?
Google Leadership Lesson 8:Build a Profitable Model and Brand – Personally & Professionally
The eighth Google principle is to build a profitable business model. Wow…so much to learn here. We should live within our means both personally and professionally. We should stretch ourselves to reach for the pinnacle, not by living in debt up to our eyeballs or raising capital where we can never produce a solid return, but thoughtfully, deliberatively, and realistically. Google has done a tremendous job of building value for their shareholders for many reasons, but having a growing and profitable business is a key component. Sure, they raised capital. Yes, it took time for them to find their way to new media. In the end, they have a highly profitable model with a compelling value proposition. The revenue model or profit model by which they run their business is sustainable, even in the face of inflation and the speed of research and development. We should guard our brands against making bets upon which we cannot deliver. Yes, we need to take risks and challenge ourselves, but that does not mean stepping on a field where we know we cannot win. It means playing the game we have chosen to the best of our abilities and building a great foundation on which we can stand. This takes time and, in the case of Google’s model, a bit of good fortune. Bottom line, they were in the game. They played hard, followed a set-upon strategy, and built a profitable model on which their brand has become a giant. Let’s do the same in our personal brands and businesses.
Google Leadership Lesson 7:KISS
KISS is the acronym for Keep It Simple, Silly. The KISS principle is built into the fiber of Google, and it has afforded this giant great success.
Keep It Simple, Silly is one of those sayings that everyone has heard but few businesses achieve with any measure of success – and for good reason, since the KISS principle is hard to achieve in the real and complex world we live in. In our own personal brands and our businesses, we must strive for simplicity. We must choose what we want to be known for and drive that message forward over and over again. The simpler the business model and the simpler we are as people to deal with, the more success we will have in our endeavors. Google created the simplest interface one could imagine, and it became a verb. My kids walk around saying, “just Google it.” Google did not deliver loads of content on the home page. They did not make their interface hard to understand. Even the name, Google, is easy to pronounce and spell. So in our businesses and in our personal brands, let’s Keep It Simple, Silly.
Google Leadership Lesson 6 – Focus, Focus, Focus
This phrase has stood the test of time. The sixth Google principle is to stay focused on your strengths. Google’s search business was and is the company’s core. In the early days of the web, when the craze was portals and content, not Rich Internet Applications – you remember Web 1.0 – Google stayed focused. Now part of this was good fortune, because at the time they were trying to become an Enterprise Search Platform. They were selling their wares in an enterprise software model. That stated, they kept the focus on search and not content creation. They did not fall into the temptation to become a content creator, as others did. Lycos, Go2Net, Yahoo, MSN, and another 1000 companies provided both the search tools and created the content. For Lycos and others, it was a large, sprawling business model. Google did not build a portal with content all over the first page. They kept it simple and focused. This focus in their business model generated great success. To put it simply, they did search better than anyone else. This example of focus can aid us in applying a principle to our lives. We may want to ask ourselves, what do we do best? What are our strengths? What does not feel like work when we do it? Does it create real value in our lives and for others around us? These should be basic questions to ask around what we do every day. No matter what the role, if we leverage our strengths in the right manner and focus, we will be very successful! Go get it!
Stay tuned next week to read about the other 5 lessons business leaders can learn from Google!
Edwin has authored 9Lenses Insight to Action:A Social Approach to Business Optimization and Snapshot9 What’s Your Picture?:Accelerate Your Business Performance. Click here to download the first chapter of 9Lenses Insight to Action for free!