Here’s Google’s Holy Grail for Measuring Leadership Skill (How Do You Stack Up?)


Few groups on the planet are more obsessed at unearthing the secrets of cultural success than Google. They use their massive analytical muscle to continually study thousands of their teams to see what works best, what doesn’t, and how to improve.  What’s really useful, however, is Google’s willingness to let outsiders peek inside their findings.

So here’s the latest peek: the 11 questions Google uses to evaluate team managers. They ask team members to answer the following using a 1-5 scale (strongly disagree…strongly agree).

1. My manager gives me actionable feedback that helps me improve my performance.

2. My manager does not “micromanage” (i.e., get involved in details that should be handled at other levels).

3. My manager shows consideration for me as a person.

4. The actions of my manager show that he/she values the perspective I bring to the team, even if it is different from his/her own.

5. My manager keeps the team focused on our priority results/deliverables.

6. My manager regularly shares relevant information from his/her manager and senior leaders.

7. My manager has had a meaningful discussion with me about career development in the past six months.

8. My manager communicates clear goals for our team.

9. My manager has the technical expertise (e.g., coding in Tech, selling in Global Business, accounting in Finance) required to effectively manage me.

10. I would recommend my manager to other Googlers.

11. I am satisfied with my manager’s overall performance as a manager.

Check out how completely this list explodes the myth that leaders add value through their knowledge. Technical expertise shows up just once, in question 9.

To the contrary, this profile describes the skills to build relationships, guide toward goals, understand context, and care for people. In short, it’s not about knowing stuff. It’s about the supple skill of connecting people and ideas. 

We often think of leadership skill as analogous to being the captain of a ship. But this shows a different model. Leadership is not like being a captain. It’s far closer to being a good coach.

(It’s also a reminder that the word culture, after all, is derived from the Latin cultus: to care.)

PS – If you want a deeper dive, I highly recommend Work Rules, by Laszlo Bock, former head of Google’s People Operations and current CEO of Humu