Former Google People Chief Laszlo Bock On 3 Critical Skills Future CEOs Will Need

Laszlo Bock, CEO of Humu

Few people have had as much influence over the intersection of technology and leadership as Laszlo Bock, who led “people operations” at Google for a decade, helping to create one of the legendary corporate cultures in business history.

Bock left Google just over a year ago to launch a tech startup called Humu, focused on using technology and behavioral science to make work, and life, better. In an interview with Chief Executive earlier this year, he shared his top three insights into what CEOs will need to lead tomorrow’s workforce:

Authenticity. “By that, I just mean dealing in truth rather than, ‘Here’s what my gut says every time.’ I don’t mean replacing good leadership. I mean actually dealing in truth. Because of social media, because of websites like Glassdoor, it’s really easy for disgruntled employees as well as happy employees to make very public what they think about leadership. That means it’s harder to be a leader because if you’re faking it, the truth will come out.”

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Expertise in Digital. “In the digital world, everybody has a certain expectation of what using technology should feel like that’s driven by the consumer experience. In Spotify, you can make custom playlists; Amazon recommends products to you. Not only do they seem to know you, but they actually then give you recommendations that are helpful. On top of that, the interaction is pleasant.

“Compare that to what technology is like in most companies, particularly small and medium-size companies. What your employees expect is an experience that’s just as smooth and silky as a consumer product. So, offering your employees a digital experience of what it’s like to work for you that feels as nice and intimate as your personal consumer technology is increasingly important. In 10 years, it will be essential.”

A Scientific, Fact-Based Approach. “The truth is most people are kind of average at management. There’s science around how to be a better leader. I once got into a debate with Jack Welch about this. He was visiting and he’d read my book and he said the one thing he didn’t agree with me on was a chapter called ‘Don’t Trust Your Gut.’ He said, ‘You absolutely have to trust your gut.’

“What I allowed was that if you’re Jack Welch, that’s fine. If you’re Steve Jobs, absolutely trust your gut. Most of us are not. We’re going to want to hire people we like, who went to the same schools, who played on the same teams, who follow the same sports and who dress like us. That’s the wrong thing to do. You should hire people because of their potential and because of a thoughtful, objective assessment of what they will add to your organization.”


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