Last week I discussed why Google is an unlikely but an impressive guru for business leaders and listed four leadership lessons we can take away from Google’s practices. I have been able to learn some valuable lessons from the most popular search engine company that ever existed. This week I outline the remaining five out the nine lessons that we leaders will do well to keep in mind as we encounter various situations in our professional lives.
Google Leadership Lesson 5:Take a chance
Google as a company has demonstrated that it isn’t afraid to take chances. Whether it is its foray into the wearable technology space with Google Glasses or even some of the unexpected changes it made to its search algorithm, Google has taken calculated chances. As business leaders, we too have to ever so often step out of our comfort zones and take chances. We can frequently find ourselves beaten down, not willing, or just fearful to take a chance on something. These negative feelings could be triggered by past failures, a bad market, and many other valid factors. Know, however, that with great risk comes great reward. While there is nothing wrong with knowing when to play it safe, many times we trick our minds into not taking a risk. At times like this, turn to Google and acknowledge how this company has constantly reinvented categories, technology, brands, offerings, media, and software. Remember that the person who tries new things and fails is stronger than the person who never tried. A quote that comes to mind here is from the Management Consultant and Educator Peter Drucker:“People who don’t take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year. People who do take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year.” So go ahead and take a chance!
Google Leadership Lesson 4:Look forward and innovate, and live in a resource state
The fact that Google is futuristic and forward-thinking is indisputable. Even after making great strides in innovation, Google still thinks about how to innovate around its current products and business model. We must do the same thing in our personal and professional lives. We must strive to have a vision and be forward thinking. Just like Google, we need to reinvent, improve, and innovate our own personal offerings. We should live in a resource state. This state is described in my people lens of the Nine Lenses as one of the attributes I search for in leaders. Are you in a constant state of learning? Are you always thinking about how to alter your approach and course to improve your outcomes? If you are, you are living in a resource state. If you see the same trends over and over again in your life, then you have not yet reached the resource state that Google has demonstrated.
Google Leadership Lesson 3: Touch, Volume, and Margin
Google has been able to drive high value creation through a low touch, high volume, and high margin model. It drives billions of transactions that are all of high value to their ecosystem. Google has created so much power that every child I know uses the phrase “Google It,” and this pervasiveness into the daily lives of people is truly powerful. Google is able to perform billions of transactions where it touches the consumer very quickly and then sends them on their way. This leads to a Low Touch, High Volume, and High Margin model. Google’s model is low touch, meaning the costs of sales, marketing, delivery, and support are very low for their business as a percentage of revenue. As business leaders and professionals, we must think about how we can achieve Low Touch, High Volume, and High Margin. If we are in a job that requires long hours and only allows us to do that one job while paying us a lower wage than we would like, we have effectively built our brands and our personal business models opposite to Google’s model.
Google Leadership Lesson 2:Build flat and empowered organizations
In an organization, it is difficult for a person to have more than one boss. We have all probably witnessed or experienced working for more than one person at some point in our careers. Google, however, is popular for driving a flat organizational structure where every employee can be a creative leader. Google employees work in teams, but they are associates or peers, not bosses of each other. They are true knowledge workers striving to create the next big thing! The more empowered an employee feels, the more he or she will achieve! Keep a flat organization where all issues are discussed openly. Insist on clear and direct communication, and prevent competing missions or objectives. Strive to eliminate rivalry between different parts of the organization, and empower teams to do their own things.
Google Leadership Lesson 1:Give more than you receive
The foremost lesson we can learn from Google is to give more than you receive. This lesson is simple yet so powerful. Have you ever helped anyone and all the while really expected something in return? The answer to this is most likely a yes – I think we all have been in a position to expect something in return for a favor. But if you ever helped anyone and did not expect a thing in return, you know that it brings an inner joy. This lesson can be seen when Google allows a person to perform a search. The Google engine provides the results to a search query, and then a person can leave Google, having become better informed. For this model to be successful, Google had to create first a high value interaction whereby people would return and tell others about the value. We can learn much from this powerful principle:Give more than you receive. So don’t hold onto your business stakeholders so tightly that they feel like you are squeezing them to death. Give them the opportunity to see the value and make the decision to come back again and again.
This brings us to the end of our nine lessons for business leaders from Google. I don’t doubt that there are many more lessons we can pick up from Google and other equally successful companies. Feel free to share your views and lessons learnt in the comments section.
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!