Leadership Research Project: Leadership within Google
How often do you use Google a day? Most people estimate their use of Google to land somewhere between five and fifteen searches a day. Google’s company logs state that they log around two billion hits each day in Google searches alone. Google’s email service, “Gmail,” now has over four hundred twenty-five million active users (D'Orazio, 2012). And Google’s map feature is one of the most comprehensive and overall entertaining ways to look at a map. So, who is the man behind Google? Google was actually founded by two men: Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Larry Page is an American-born computer scientist who was seeking his Ph.D. at Stanford University. Sergey Brin, a Russian-born computer scientist, also seeking his Ph.D. at Stanford met Page at an orientation for students in the Ph.D. program at Stanford. The two became friends and ended up rooming together. The two combined their knowledge to create a search engine that was much more accurate and efficient than any other at the time. In 1996 Brin and Page launched their “Google” system with a combination of mechanics established by both founders. The system uses a data miner developed by Brin that more efficiently realized patterns within large sets of data and the PageRank system that Larry Page developed, which determines the value of the number of times a link is used, or the pattern the data miner finds. Since its start in 1996 Google has attracted much attention and grown considerably into the startling large and impressive company it is today. But, even with all of Google’s growth and prowess, business-wise, what can we say about the founders of the company and their ability to lead it to such astounding success? Sergey Brin and Larry Page have done their absolute best to ensure that they keep an open atmosphere at their company that promotes the type of creativity, confidentiality and work flow that they see as necessary to a business like theirs. Without realizing it, Brin and Page have created a work environment and leadership style centered on the Leadership Member Exchange, Situational Leadership and Ethical leadership Theories. The pair does their best to promote a constant flow of communication between themselves, their associates/peers, and their workers beneath them. This idea of keeping a constant dyadic flow of communication clearly comes from an LMX-style approach to leadership. They boast constantly on their website how they “maintain the open culture often associated with startups (Google, 2012)” and how employees “ask questions directly to Larry, Sergey and other execs (Google, 2012)” about many issues in the company. Even when hiring, the duo places specific types of questions and material that will see if the potential employee seems to fit within the company’s personality as well as its high quality of employees. Through this dyadic flow of conversation, Sergey and Larry noticed a change in the company around 2001. The pair saw that someone else was needed to help guide the company. This, I believe, points to a very situational approach to leadership. The partners saw that there was no way they could direct the company through the changes it needed to continue growing, and even though Brin and Page did not initially like the appointed CEO, Eric Schmidt, they grew to work with him and respect him (Karlgaard, 2009). This decision initially seems to reflect more on Google’s executives than Brin and Page, but Sergey Brin and Larry Page were both executives and were involved in the decision. The focus of the Situational Approach is recognizing the competence and commitments of the followers and adapting to fit them. Brin and Page managed to see themselves as their own subordinates (as under the executive board they were a part of), and they saw their own lack of competence in the area and let Schmidt take over. Sergey and Larry also exhibit a strong Situational approach in how they manage the...
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D 'Orazio, D. (2012). www.theverge.com. Retrieved from http://www.theverge.com/2012/6/28/3123643/gmail-425-million-total-users
Google. (2012). Google. Retrieved from http://www.google.com/about/company/philosophy/
Karlgaard, R. (2009, november 23). Leadership lessons from google. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/2009/11/23/ken-auletta-leadership-intelligent-technology-google.html
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