The Google method of effective leadership development

The Google method of effective leadership development

Richard Taylor C. Psychol., MBA
01. Nov 2020 | 5 min read

The Google method of effective leadership development

We all use google searches to find answers to our questions. We often look at the videos google suggests for explanations. This teaching method can be adapted to provide leadership development.

 

Here we look at how you can apply the Google-method you use in your everyday life to learn stuff in creating new and more effective leadership development activities.

When your computer or mobile develops a glitch, or you need to find out how to use an app or programme, what do you do?

COMPUT~1

You google ‘how to….’, right? You click on the videos Google finds for you (probably available Google’s own Youtube) until you find one that explains what you should do. You follow the steps in the video and hey presto! you have (hopefully) fixed the problem. Relief!

Relief photo Radu Florin

Using the instructional videos Google points you to is a particular use for Google. You don't just look up random facts. You use step-by-step instructional videos for a specific process. We all do this all the time. For everything. For mending washing machines, building a bookshelf, learning to dance. We also use step-by-step video instruction for less concrete skills like meditation, coaching or asking open questions.

 

Incredibly effective

Step-by-step video instruction is incredibly effective as it is based on our most basic learning technique: imitation. Large amounts of research have shown that babies can imitate sticking out their tongue just a few hours after birth.

child imitating mother

When we use step-by-step video instruction, we are plugging into a primeval mechanism. Imitation is built into us. Even Einstein was caught in the act.

Einstein_tongue

 

Adapted for leadership development

Step-by-step instruction is not extensively used in leadership development. The main reason is that leadership skills are ‘open’: they need to be interpreted for and adapted to the thousands of different contexts a leader finds themselves in. One size does not fit all. An approach might work for Person A but not B, and might not work for Person A on a different day.

There is only one way of mending problem X in a washing machine. Each step is predictable and can be filmed.

Even though leadership is contextual, the principles of step-by-step instruction can be adapted to create highly effective leadership development programmes. The key lies in the creation of a robust best practice for a specific leadership process.

Take the first 100 days for a leader moving into a new role as an example. This is perhaps the most valuable process there is for the individual leader. If they get things right, they set themselves up for success for the 4.5 years they will, on average, be in the role. Everything is new and the opportunities to fail many. Indeed, up to 40% underperform. But the opportunities to succeed are also many. The new leader brings a new perspective and can help solve issues that the team has struggled with ‘for ever’.

The first 100 days in a new role, like any leadership process, are not standardised. How can you compare the process for someone starting as the new CEO of Google with that of a new Foreman for 6 plumbers, or with the new Supervisor of 30 home helpers caring for the elderly?

The amazing thing is that they are comparable. All 3 should follow the same 5 steps:

best practice steps

The CEO, foreman and supervisor should all Prepare in a structured way, Position themselves effectively the first time they meet their new colleagues, Unite with their team, deliver Results as early as possible and Expand once they are set. The CEO may have to move more quickly, but the steps are the same for the homehelp Supervisor.

Dwell on this for a moment: each manager has, on average, 11 people reporting to them. It follows that Google, with its 114,00 employees, has about 9,500 managers of which about 2,100 change roles each year. All of them would achieve more if they followed best practice.

With best practice defined, videos and tools can be designed to help the leader succeed at each step of the way.

This ‘google-method’, with the definition of best practice and creation of supporting videos and tools, can be applied to leading team development, strategy creation, product development, purchasing etc. It has a strong future in leadership development.

The google method is but one tip for creating effective leadership development. Feel free to look at  How to make leadership development effective for more. How to design and implement digital leadership development programmes can also be very helpful.

If you would like to learn more about the example referred to for a manager’s first 100 days in a new role, please download our ebook.

Free ebook about how leadership success is created in a new role

Richard Taylor C. Psychol., MBA

Richard Taylor C. Psychol., MBA

Organisational psychologist with an MBA. Broad top management experience spanning many industries, functions and countries, including 10 years with corporate responsibility for HR. Extensive experience as consultant in private, public and voluntary sectors. A number of board positions in the education and culture sectors. Started career as counsellor for drug and alcohol abusers.

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