Google Embraces Empathy

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Google Embraces Empathy

Google is the most successful company today, maybe the most successful of all-time. Much of that should be credited to the near perfect technical skills and innovation of Google leadership. But some say there’s something lacking.

Bruno Bowden is a former Google employee. He’s currently a partner at Data Collective. In a statement, Bowden complained despite their massive success, Google leadership often comes short in empathy and what he calls ’emotional intelligence’. He criticizes them for not having good people skills. But he compliments new Google CEO Sundar Pichai for helping turn the tide. Others agree. Pichai is known for being hard only when he has to, but has the soft skills needed for production and management. A few weeks ago, he promoted his colleagues not just on longevity or talent. Qualities like loyalty, humility and congeniality were huge factors. One Google exec put it in layman’s terms: “All the [expletive] have left.” This is a contrast to former Google CEO Larry Page, whose now running Google Alphabet. Page is known for being tough, harsh and abrasive. Pichai is changing the culture and wants his fellow Google leaders to do the same. Maybe that’s why he picked Hiroshi Lockheimer to lead Android. Lockheimer is known for being likable, approachable and merciful. He’s been with Android since 2006 and helped launch Android 1.0. So he’s experienced and knowledgeable too.

Sundar Pichai and Hiroshi Lockheimer may be onto something. Their reputation of empathetic leaders will certainly change the culture at Google headquarters. Maybe, just maybe, it could start a revolution and change the entire Silicon Valley culture. From certain stories I’ve read, Silicon Valley bosses can be tough. Let’s see how successful Pichai’s nice guy approach works. I hope his reign is very successful. I hope he inspires others to have the same care for their people. Can’t the nice guy finish first sometimes?

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