Marissa Mayer, Google’s employee #20 and the recently named CEO of Yahoo!, has spoken extensively about how she managed her teams (including Google Search, Google Images and Google News) and employees at Google. In addition to the engineering and product contributions she made to the tech giant, she’d also been praised for the leadership role she took at Google. Here are four important leadership lessons from Mayer’s tenure at Google:
1. Failure IS an Option
When speaking at a panel for Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit, Mayer said, “It’s totally fine to fail, you just have to fail fast.” Mayer emphasizes that you should try any idea and not be afraid of failure, but you need to know when to abandon ship and leave a bad idea before the damage is irreversible.
“Failing fast” is also an idea ingrained in the culture at Facebook. Last year at the HR Technology conference, senior executive Molly Graham spoke about how her company created a risk-taking, entrepreneurial culture.
2. Talent Recognizes Talent
At Google, Mayer founded a leadership program called APM (Associate Product Manager). Through the program, Mayer identified talented young engineers and invited them to take part in an engineering incubator, backed by Google dollars and led by Mayer. These contacts will no doubt prove invaluable when Mayer begins building her new team at Yahoo!.
Many engineers are already comfortable with the idea of agile development, which relies on frequent feedback and constant iteration. So they really respond to bringing the same agile approach to managing their careers.
3. Don’t Forget the Fundamentals
As a recent Forbes piece noted, there are several basic qualities that all inspiring leaders share, and Mayer is no exception. She is an expert at getting people excited about her ideas, she is passionate about what she does (evidenced by her still working 9 am til after 8 pm every day, long after she received her big payday at Google), she’s a persuasive speaker, and she is an excellent motivator.
4. Be a Leader and a Mentor
Mayer understands that it’s important, as a leader, to be a mentor, too. “Employees, especially young people, want more than a paycheck,” Mayer said. In other words, people want to find meaning from their work. In order to mentor her employees at Google and help them find meaning in their work, she held office hours for 90 minutes each day. Employees could add their names to a board outside their office and sign up for time to meet with Mayer 1:1 about anything they chose.