Published in the Credit Union Times
By, Stuart R. Levine

This past month during our firm’s Senior Leadership Team meeting, we watched a video from featuring Liane Hornsey, Vice President, Operations at Google.   The smartest CEOs and their teams are asking how to develop the right leadership for the future.

Creating organizational responsibilities and defined accountabilities sets the right culture when vision, mission and core values are identified.  As companies grow, they need to evaluate their leadership and how to deploy and prioritize financial resources to achieve talent growth with discipline.   The velocity of growth exposes leadership deficiencies.  Some senior people want to learn and grow, while others are satisfied to function in a linear way.  This resistance is understandable but creates an unsustainable model for the business enterprise.  As leaders are limited by the number of hours in the day and number of decisions that can be made, combined with the unending amounts of information available, leaders need to accept accountability, own their responsibilities and lead.  This is a spiritual challenge that requires inspirational leadership.

Liane Hornsey sheds fascinating light on this subject by sharing Google’s hiring practices, how they build a culture of innovation, the biggest HR mistakes they have made and how they manage conflict.   The most important learning, and one that she describes as a “light bulb” moment, was when she finally recognized that her success in business was about the people around her being successful.  She said it took her 10 – 15 years to develop her managerial skills and leadership takes a long time to develop.  It is not a “one shot” deal, but tends to be an iterative, evolving process.

The development of leadership capacity within an organization is not random.  It happens by design.  Building an innovative culture and recruiting talent that understands innovation and the importance of continuing to learn is critical.

At Google, their ongoing interviewing process is a lengthy one. It used to include some 14 interviews.  Throughout this process, ownership of the individual’s success is built.  The hiring process is a formal decision-making process through consensus, which provides energy and enthusiasm for the new hire.   The process is taken very seriously to make sure that the right people come in the front door.  Managing talent with quarterly reviews to ensure they are performing keeps them accountable.

Making sure that people have the skills to do the job and helping them to develop that leadership capacity is a huge issue.  Really enjoying the relationships with the people you work with and loving the people around you is a major way that Google achieves the culture that encourages innovation.  They draw strength from the values of ethics and decency they share and feel great about the people around them.

Personal satisfaction at work is often determined by the degree of alignment between personal values, organizational values and responsibilities.  If someone values independence, their satisfaction will be largely influenced by their degree of autonomy at work.  If someone values honesty, their satisfaction will be influenced by the level of open, ethical behaviors at work.   When people enjoy their work, they are internally driven to excel.

The integration of personal and corporate values plays a significant role in how employees move on a daily basis towards a company’s vision.   Just as an individual has personal values that support their vision, corporations have organizational values that support its vision.  Once a corporation’s values are established and expressed by its leadership team, these values become behavioral guides for every employee.  For employees to bring their very best to the job, personal values need to align with organizational values and intersect.  People need to live their own values in the context of the organization.  Google has figured out how to create this kind of environment, where people’s values are aligned, the best talent is attracted and retained and people bring their best energy and talents to the job every day.

How do we stimulate and challenge the types of leadership behaviors that make us more successful and effective?   One idea that can develop your leadership capacity and build relationships with key people is to share content like this with your boss, your senior leadership team and your clients.   They might really appreciate the thought and it’s a nice way to open up a dialogue.

Innovation starts with passion, listening and asking the right questions and ultimately a commitment to learning.  CEOs need to take hiring, managing and reviewing talent in a more structured and thoughtful way.  Google provides us with great examples for how they are building the right leadership for their future.  Are you building the right talent for your organization?