Posted on 11/17/2014 at 08:44 AM by Liz Determan

Last month, I shared three of the five qualities Laszlo Bock, senior vice president of people operations for Google, listed as critical qualities for a person to demonstrate to be hired.  The first two were learning ability and emergent leadership.  Feel free to check last month’s blog to catch up on how Bock describes these qualities.  This month we will examine the last three attributes Google desires in their employees.

The third and fourth attributes are humility and ownership.

Bock says ‘It’s feeling the sense of responsibility, the sense of ownership, to step in, to try to solve any problem – and the humility to step back and embrace the better ideas of others.  Your end goal is what can we do together to problem-solve.  I’ve contributed my piece, and then I step back.’  Bock continues to explain that it is not just humility in creating space for others to contribute, but ‘intellectual humility.  Without humility, you are unable to learn.’ It is why research shows that many graduates from hotshot business schools plateau. ‘Successful bright people rarely experience failure, and so they don’t learn how to learn from that failure,’ says Bock.

The fifth attribute, “the least important” in Bock’s opinion is expertise. He believes that if you find someone who has high cognitive ability and is innately curious and willing to learn, with emergent leadership skills, you will have someone who will either come up with the same answers as a person with expertise, or who may even come up with a solution that is better than a person who may have expertise, but can only see one answer that is tied directly to their personal, professional experience.


So, once again, I am wondering if we can answer:  How are we equipping our students with the understanding that failure is a necessary component of reaching success?  Do we not only allow, but encourage our students to try and fail and try again, so they have a deep understanding of the persistence, determination, and resiliency needed to face and solve problems in work and in life?  Do our students know and understand that they do not have to know all the answers; that there is value in embracing the help and ideas of others; and that we really are smarter and better when we use all of the heads in the room?

One final thought shared in the Times article, “How to Get a Job at Google” was this:

“Beware.  Your degree is not a proxy for your ability to do any job.  The world only cares about – and pays off on – what you can do with what you know (and it doesn’t care how you learned it).  And in an age when innovation is increasingly a group endeavor, it also cares about a lot of soft skills – leadership, humility, collaboration, adaptability and loving to learn and re-learn.  This will be true no matter where you go to work.” (Adam Bryant, The Times, 2014)




There are no comments yet.
Add Comment

* Indicates a required field