Most people know of Google’s exceptional skill in hiring a bunch of rocket scientists to deliver incredibly useful search engine search results.

Recently, they decided to data mine their own employee reviews and promotions database. The goal was to quantitatively determine what factors got people promoted in Google to become managers and leaders within the company.

The results surprised Google. 

The company’s culture has historically centered around hiring and promoting the best technical minds.

The company was surprised when their own internal analysis revealed that this wasn’t actually true.

They determined eight skills that the promoted managers possessed that others did not. 

They are listed in rank order: 

1) Coach your team members well. 
2) Lead your team without micro-managing them.
3) Take an interest in team members’ success.
4) Focus on results.
5) Be a good listener and communicator.
6) Focus on career development for your employees.
7) Develop a strategy for your team.
8) Possess technical skills to advise your team when needed.

Let me point out a few things that jump out at me from this list:

#8 on the list is a technical skill.
#7 is a strategy skill.
#4 is a tactical execution skill.

Skills #1, #2, #3, #5, and #6 are people-management and emotional intelligence (EQ) type skills.

The top three skills are all EQ type skills, and five of the top eight are EQ type skills.

Google is one of the most technically oriented companies in the world.

While they hire for technical IQ type talent, they promoted for EQ oriented skills.

This is true in most organizations.

It’s true for a reason… because it works.

To lead a team of engineers, you don’t have to be more brilliant than everyone else. You have to have enough technical knowledge to hire the right people and to ask the right questions. After that, your effectiveness as an executive is more a function of being able to LISTEN (skill #5) to your smartest engineer.

If you want to tackle multiple major engineering projects, you do so by developing your rising stars and helping them manage teams of their own (skills 1, 2, and 3). The more sub-projects they can manage, the more effective you become.

If it’s your goal to have upward mobility in your career path, sooner or later, you will need to develop these EQ type people skills.

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