Personal Growth

The 10 Elements of a Great Boss, According to Google

Managers are important. Handling a power seat can be tricky, and the right thing to do isn't always obvious if you want to be the best boss you can be. Whether you're a boss yourself or you just have one, Google's got you covered. They released a study on what it takes to be a great boss, and it's full of important lessons for anyone who leads — or who's looking for a leader.

Like a Boss

Google has always been interested in the role managers play in a team's success. For a while, their answer was, surprisingly, "none at all." For a few months in 2002, they attempted to run things without any managers. It was a catastrophic failure.

OK, so managers are necessary. But what is it about managers that really matters? In 2008, Google began a 10-year study to find out. Code-named "Project Oxygen," the study's original goal was to pinpoint the eight common characteristics among their highest performing managers. Soon, they began coaching all of their managers to develop these same characteristics and managing principles. Over time, these qualities evolved, and the company tweaked their guidance until they came up with the following 10 behaviors of a great boss.

A Great Boss ...

Is a Good Coach

Instead of solving problems for their team — or worse, leaving them without any guidance at all — a great boss uses problems as a learning experience to help their team get better.

Empowers the Team and Doesn't Micromanage

Everyone likes to feel empowered to make their own decisions and trusted that they'll make the right ones. A good boss gives people the freedom to experiment and take risks while also giving them the support they need to do the best they can do.

Creates an Inclusive Team Environment

Teammates should be encouraged to speak up and take risks among their peers. When their peers do the same, they should support them or offer constructive criticism. Nobody on the team should feel embarrassed by an idea or afraid to take a risk.

Is Productive and Results-Oriented

Bosses want to make those around them believe that they can accomplish any task well. They know how to motivate their team to produce the highest quality content possible.

Is a Good Communicator

People who listen to the thoughts of others and communicate information effectively make the best bosses. They also offer praise when things are done well, and they do it often, but they're also not afraid to give negative feedback.

Supports Career Development and Can Discuss Performance

Great bosses treat their team members as an investment, not a tool for personal gain. To that end, they help people develop their careers and do what they can to guide them toward reaching their own goals.

Has a Clear Vision and Strategy for the Team

They know where the team or company is headed and makes sure everyone else is on the same page. They also offer concrete goals toward that destination and communicate realistic expectations for their execution.

Has Key Technical Skills to Advise the Team

They need to talk the talk and walk the walk. It's one thing for someone to have the ability to manage a team effectively, but another to have been in their shoes before. For example, if you're working at an IT company, the boss should have extensive IT knowledge. Even if a boss comes from a different background, they should familiarize themselves with the day-to-day tasks of their team.

Collaborates Within the Company

There's no I in team! Great managers have the quality to make the whole company feel like they are working together instead of pitting teams against teams or management against employees.

Is a Strong Decisionmaker

The reality is, bosses have to make difficult decisions. Sometimes half the team wants to go one way and the other half the other, and the boss is the one who has to take the backlash once all is said and done. Being a strong decisionmaker means deciding what's best for the company and making sure everyone around them knows their reasoning.

If this list motivated you to be the best boss you can be, we're glad. For an in-depth look, read Bruce Tulgan's "It's Okay to Be the Boss: The Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming the Manager Your Employees Need" as your manual. We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

How to Be the Leader of Productive Teams

Written by Annie Hartman August 3, 2018

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