Key skills of Sundar Pichai: We need to learn to be successful

Sundar Pichai is the CEO of Google and Alphabet. He heads the company whose customer base is larger than population of any country in the world. With Google crossing 2 billion users, 1 out of every 4 person in the world is Google’s customer. Lets see what skills does it takes to be a CEO of world’s successful tech giant.

Sundar Pichai’s colleagues most often describe him as “thoughtful.” He speaks thoughtfully, often pausing to find the right phrase. Pichai is considered soft-spoken and an adapt problem solver.

More than his knowledge of products and technology, it is his ability to lead and work with people that has made him the most popular and important man within Google.

Sundar Pichai’s shrewd instinct for the product, coupled with business savvy and topped with excellent soft skills which makes him the right choice for Google founders to pick him as CEO of Google and Alphabet.

By now, you must have understood that we are speaking about interpersonal skills and not technical skills.

Communication: Sundar Pichai is known to tune his communication based on the audience he is speaking with. Sundar was a shy kid during his childhood. He worked to learn and improve his communication skills successfully. “He’s a strong communicator who makes sure everyone on his team understands the mission.” as described by Susan Adams, Editor at Forbes.

Inclusive Leadership: Sundar Pichai is a leader who believes in empowering people. His major leadership strategy as descried by himself is, “Do not only see your own success, but focus on the success of others”. Sundar Pichai seems calm and and at ease in his leadership role. He avoids confrontation, instead emphasizing cooperation. He waits out conflicts rather than confronting opponents.

Team player: While discussing about his own leadership style Sundar Pichai once said his job is to help the members of his team succeed by removing any roadblocks or barriers that stand in the way. He creates success for his company by encouraging collaboration and personal development. In Sundar’s own words “I also value teamwork quite a bit and I think it’s really important to build organizations where people really want to work together. Everything comes out of that. So, setting up collaborative cultures is another big thing I have been trying to focus on.”  

Simplicity:  In an interview to New York Times, he had said: “There was a simplicity to my life, which was very nice compared with today’s world. We lived in a kind of modest house, shared with tenants. We would sleep on the living room floor. There was a drought when I was growing up, and we had anxiety. Even now, I can never sleep without a bottle of water beside my bed. Other houses had refrigerators, and then we finally got one. It was a big deal.”

Resilience: Launching Google chrome and making it undisputed market leader is probably the biggest evidence of resilience skills of Sundar Pichai. The project started as as an experiment by his team of 10 engineers. When they initially got the prototype working, they faced significant resistance within the company. Nobody in the company wanted the challenge of taking on Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Sundar presented Google Chrome to founders Larry and Sergey. Even then there was a lot of skepticism. There was also objection from then CEO Eric Schmidt. It was only his resilience that he later won the confidence of founder Larry to get go ahead. Finally, Google Chrome was released in 2008 and made history. Google chrome now accounts for around 68% of the market and Microsoft internet explorer market share is below 7%. 

Collaboration: Sundar Pichai as a leader is known to avoid conflicts and confrontation. Instead he always emphasize on cooperation. He understands how to be supportive. According to a profile in The Information, ““What’s perhaps most striking about Mr. Pichai’s ascent at Google is that he has operated differently from most other senior executives at the company. Google has had a combative internal culture in its upper ranks and turf wars can be fierce, yet Mr. Pichai is subdued and usually eager to collaborate rather than wage a political fight. He’s even been willing to give up some territory for the sake of harmony with other executives — something that’s won him respect across the company and the trust of Mr. Page.”

After taking charge as Google CEO, while preparing for Google’s annual developer conference Pichai said to his colleague, “I wanted to create a sense of community, make it more informal” This is the value he gives on building relationships. He has tremendous ability to create an emotional connect while speaking to people. He values people and the ability to connect human also reveals his emotional intelligence.

Leadership style of Sundar Pichai :

Now since we have seen interpersonal skills of Sundar Pichai which differentiate him from most other leaders, Let’s also understand his leadership style to learn more from him.

Sundar Pichai is an “Affiliative leader”.

Affiliative style of leadership can be best described as “People comes first”. This style of leadership is about forming collaborative relationships with team. Below quote by Pichai himself demonstrate Affiliative leadership style of Sundar Pichai.

“As a leader, it is important to not just see your success but focus on the success of others.”

– Sundar Pichai

Finally, The most important lesson to learn from Sundar Pichai is if you try to establish your intellectual dominance, it can be a losing strategy in longer run. Sundar’s rise as Google and Alphabet CEO shows us the better way to succeed which is “To bring the best out of others.”

Know more about Sundar Pichai in the book below:

Learn more about: Bill Gates Leadership style

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