Google Study Reveals the 8 Characteristics of Successful Leaders

By April 26, 2012July 22nd, 2021Developing Leadership Skills


“I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles, but today it means getting along with people.”

~ Mahatma Gandhi

The Internet is chock full of articles on leadership skills, studies on management styles, and theories of executive efficacy. A search for a keyword as specific as “leadership and management skills” yields 15.8 million results. With so many differing models of leadership and competing management frameworks, it’s difficult for executives to know where to turn for true research-based advice.

Ironically, Google has the answers for us—but not via one of its searches. A 2011 study by Google’s Project Oxygen found that virtually all of the company’s best-performing executives demonstrated eight core leadership skills. Google’s social scientists and statisticians based their findings on over 10,000 observations across more than 100 variables. Here’s what they found:

Google’s Eight Characteristics of Successful Leaders:

  1. Be an effective coach.

    Effective leaders facilitate their entire team’s success by bringing out the best in everyone and helping them work together as a team.

  2. Don’t micromanage.

    Give your team a chance to stretch and show their creativity.

  3. Focus on results and productivity.

    Your team’s job—not yours—is to determine how they will achieve their objectives.

  4. Demonstrate a clear vision and strategy.

    Micromanaging is bad, but teams expect their leaders to provide overarching principles and guidance. Offer your team a clear vision of success, and they’ll follow you along that path.

  5. Pay attention to your employees’ career development.

    While you may not be their personal career coach, diligence in helping your team members with career advancement will earn their loyalty.

  6. Demonstrate your interest in the team’s success and each member’s personal well-being.

    When your employees know you want them to succeed, they will be much more responsive to you.

  7. Listen to your team and stress the importance of communication.

    Help your team members communicate more effectively at work and you’ll see marked productivity gains.

  8. Maintain your technical skills.

    Employees value supervisors who can help them with technical questions or point them in the direction of useful resources.

The results of Google’s Project Oxygen may not be especially earth-shattering, but they reinforce the importance of management fundamentals—which is always an important reminder. Master the qualities of a great leader and you’ll experience tremendous results in both your team’s performance and your career.

For more information about specific management techniques, articles on leadership skills, and tips on leadership development , check out my executive coaching website. Or order my book Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level for practical advice on jumpstarting your career/

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