Project Oxygen Recap – Year in Review: Top Ten Qualities of an Effective Leader and How You Can Attain Them

In the middle of last year, Institute Success began exploring the findings of Google’s Project Oxygen, the company’s ongoing, data-rich initiative focused on identifying traits common among its highest performing managers. 

We dedicated a full newsletter and blog post to each quality so that our clients and potential clients could benefit from the details of Google’s research. Our main goal, though, was to clearly show you how our coaches turn these results into timeless wisdom for the leaders and professionals we inspire every day. Won’t you join us for a workshop or leadership coaching program and make 2020 your strongest year yet?

If you need a refresher or in case you missed a few, here is the full list, which includes links to our blog so you can find more information about each one. 

The Ten Qualities You Need to Be a Great Leader, According to Research by Google:

  1. Be a good coach.

Google’s study of its most effective leaders found that the best ones were also great coaches. Light years away from micromanagers or the outdated “command and control” style of leadership, excellent managers spoke less and listened more, asked powerful questions, were truly empathetic to their employees’ concerns, gave regular feedback, helped remove obstacles and focused on the team’s success. 

  1. Empower your team, and don’t micromanage.

By letting go of minor details and instead empowering their teams to design their own strategies for success, top managers were able to guide their staff toward taking charge of the future. By letting your employees offer their own insights and discover the power of their ideas, you foster a collaborative relationship that endures for the long term. 

  1. Create an inclusive team environment and show concern for success and well-being.

The research from Project Oxygen found that leaders with this trait were 71% more likely to have an energized and engaged team. At Institute Success, we believe the five key qualities of a caring manager are: the ability to communicate a genuine concern to their staff; knowing employees’ goals for the future; knowing how team members are doing by asking meaningful questions; being unafraid to have frank discussions to remove roadblocks and continually presenting each team member with challenges and opportunities. 

  1. Be productive and results-oriented

Being productive is not the same as being busy. This can be an eye-opening statement for many people. True productivity, great managers know, is not found in looking busy with email or putting in long hours every night. Meaningful results come from concentrated time spent on a task, sticking to a decision and method of working for at least 30 days and sharing your non-essential duties with direct reports so you can focus on the larger vision for your company. 

  1. Be a good communicator and listen to your team.

Did you know that true communication resides in the listener, not the speaker? We encourage leaders to practice the skill of active listening and work on being fully present, asking clarifying questions and listening more while speaking less. This includes not thinking about what to say next to prove your point, but rather on really taking in what the speaker is saying and being open to new ways of looking at things. 

  1. Support career development and discuss performance.

Researchers at Gallup found that only about half of employees indicated a strong understanding of what was expected of them at work. Good leaders should see that as a wakeup call. Focus not just on the skills that employees bring to the table, but their habits and attitudes. We can teach you how to assess for this, and also how to see strengths and blind spots up front, before you’ve hired someone. One of our mantras is to hire for the job as you envision it, not what it is right now. Lastly, create a shared picture of success with your employees and nurture their connection to the work by outlining the “why” behind what you do, not just focusing on tasks to be done. 

  1. Have a clear vision and strategy for the team.

Do you have a clear vision for your company’s success? Great. Now for the big question: Have you shared that vision with your employees and do each of them know the role they can play in achieving it? If you aren’t sure, keep reading. Start by defining your vision of success. Then find out how each of your team members defines success. Once you know everyone’s motivations, you can begin to seek clarity around their strengths and learn how to engage them by giving them work they excel at and rewards that make them feel valued. Only then can you work together toward a shared vision of success, which is the best and most lasting kind. 

  1. Possess key technical skills to help advise the team.

You might wonder, how much technical know-how is enough? Do I possess enough knowledge to lead others who are also experts in their field? First, let’s start by asking different questions. After all, at any given moment in time, you only know what you know. So, the real questions to ask yourself are: do I also know what I don’t know, and do I know how to close the gap between where I am and where I want to be? Who else may know even more? Read on for more tips on what to keep in mind as you reflect on these questions. 

  1. Collaborate across the organization.

We are interdependent: my success depends on yours, and this is true for every member of our team and our company. If you’d like to build a stronger bridge to prosperity and longevity, there are some things to keep in mind. Leaders who are skilled at cross-collaboration know that everyone has diverse communication preferences and they must ask themselves the Golden Questions in order to best communicate with each member of their company. (Read the full blog post to find out the Golden Questions). Good cross-collaborators also know that people do things for those they know, like and trust. They also keep the value of the team in mind at all times by checking to make sure every employee understands the “why” of the company’s mission and is engaged in realizing it. 

  1. Be a strong decision maker

When will you realize that you are “ridiculously in charge” — that you are ultimately responsible for the success or failure of your organization? It sounds like a heavy burden, but in reality, it’s liberating. At Institute Success, we understand that it takes a structured course of action to make the best decisions, and we share with our clients a ten-step process for problem-solving and decision-making. Through our workshops, we can help you find your own system for making the best decisions for long-term success at your company. In the meantime, read the full blog post for more tips.