How to get a job at Google – leadership skills first.

Run the idea of employment as a Googler past most young tech-savvy people these days and they look wistful. Look at the youtube video adverts of life at Google yourself and envy youth lost forever.

There’s more to be learned from Google than the envious lifestyle. In an interview  (and below) with New York Time journalist Thomas Friedman, Lazlo Bock, the Talent Manager for Google, identifies the hiring attributes they look for in job candidates: ability to learn – quickly, ’emergent’ leadership, humility and collaboration.  Now these criteria have been defined, such is the power of Google, they will probably be adopted across other organisations and industries.

They are attributes to be aspired to by anyone in leadership; they are attributes any leader could be striving to develop amongst their own team members.


‘Emergent’ leadership is an interesting concept, one closely inter-related with the other attributes or skills. Traditional leadership he argues, looks for evidence of formal leadership positions held – in clubs or higher. What Google sees as critical to effective leadership is teamwork: the willingness to both step in and lead at the appropriate time and equally, to relinquish power and let someone else lead.

Brock links this skill with humility and a sense of ownership. Teamwork again. To recognise and accept the better ideas of others; to be willing to learn with and from others.

How can we develop these skills in our team members? It’s being ever vigilant: leading by example, having team discussions about the behaviour valued amongst team members, encouraging mutual respect, giving feedback to reinforce those behaviours.

How can we develop those skills in ourselves? It’s being ever vigilant – again: being quite clear about the kind of workplace relationships we value, taking the time to thank others for their contributions, making sure we hold  those difficult conversations we’d rather avoid, offering opportunities for others to grow, allowing time to reflect on our own behaviour.

Practicing reflection is a valuable skill for any leader to learn. One very practical way to start is writing a journal, using a simple action strategy to document what happened, why and what you will do next time. You might find this article useful: Read


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