Case Study: Triumvirate Leadership at Google Essay Example

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  1. In what ways are Sergey Brin, Larry Page and Eric Schmidt managers?

Management entails the administration and coordination of a business’s activities to attained objectives. The principal function of management is to get individuals to work together to attain set organisational goals. Thomas (2005) asserts that to manage is “to forecast and plan, to organise, to command, to coordinate and to control” (23). Nelson, Quick, Wright and Adams (2012) confirm that management and leadership are two distinct activities although they are complementary systems of actions in firms. While productive leadership offers resourceful change in organisations, good management controls the complexity surrounding the organisation and its environment. Healthy firms like Google require both good management and effective leadership. The management process entails planning and budgeting, organising and staffing, and problem solving and controlling. The management process promotes stability of a firm and lowers uncertainty.

Sergey Brin, Larry Page and Eric Schmidt have steered Google to its incredible success. Effective leadership and good management of the three have seen the company continue to grow. The success of Google is attributed to the good management skills of the triumvirate. Based on the information provided in the case study, Page and Brin understood that they were not professional managers, marketers or masters of strategy. As a result, they hired Eric Schmidt to oversee the operations of the company. However, all the three can be said to be good managers. This is because the triumvirate has been involved in advocating the status quo and stability of the company. They are also involved in planning and budgeting, organising and staffing besides controlling the operations of the firm. The three also hold problem-solving skills that have seen the company constantly grow. Page and Brin have continuously advocated for the stability and status quo of the firm. Page as the president for products ensures that the company’s product remain at the top of its competitors. He gets involved in projects to ensure that things are done the right way. Brin as the president of technology is a manager because he takes the responsibility for advertising initiatives. Both Page and Brin are managers because they took up the role of staffing when they recruited Schmidt to be the firm’s CEO. Schmidt is a manger because he sets the firm’s overall agenda, provide direction on work issues and ensures that the firms executives and employees remain organised and controlled. He also redesigned the management structure to balance Page’s and Brin strengths. The three are involved in hiring class-A talents and implements excellent reward systems and award programs that ensure that workers with great thoughts stick to the company instead of establishing their own business ventures. The three are managers because they organise and control operations in the firm. They allow employees to portion their roles in three parts and allocate time for far-out concepts and off-budget projects to ensure the stability of the firm. They also encourage innovation and creativity; implement policies, procedures and processes to promote innovation and creativity. The three put measures in place to attain input from peers and formulate support for change.

The triumvirate demonstrate responsibility on ensuring that things are done accordingly. The three hold planning and delegating skills. Page, Brin and Schmidt have functional and impersonal mindset and they believe that goals arise out of reality and necessity. Through their recruitment procedure, they view work as an enabling process that brings together people, things and ideas. They are risk takers who work tirelessly to ensure innovation and creativity. They always seek for new ideas to ensure they beat their competitors. They prefer working with other engineers although they avoid conflict and intense relations. They do not want being transparent to outsiders and have not been making or winning friends. They accept things as they are and prefer people to think that they are confused. However, Page and Brin are more of leaders than managers are because after recognising their call for a powerful management focus, they recruited Schmidt. Schimdt contributed to the much needed dimension of management to the triumvirate. However, based on the analysis, it is not right to assume that Brin and Page are not managers in their own rights and that Schimdt is not a leader. The fact that they all can implement time management skills, organise and staff, they demonstrate management and leadership skills.

  1. In what ways are Brin, Page and Schmidt leaders?

Nelson, Quick, Wright and Adams (2012) assert that leadership in firms is the process of directing and guiding the conduct of persons in the work setting. Leadership can be formal or informal where formal leadership takes place when a firm official confers on a leader the authority to direct and guide others in the firm. Informal leadership, on the other hand, takes place when a person is unofficially accorded authority by others in the firm and utilizes influence to direct and guide their behaviour. The leadership process entails setting a direction for the firm, aligning people with that direction via communication and motivating people to action through major needs fulfilment and through empowerment (Nelson, Quick, Wright & Adams, 2012). Leadership establishes change and uncertainty in a firm. Productive leaders control the future of their firms and conduct themselves as enablers of change (Cameron & Green, 2012). They disturb subsisting blueprints of conduct, support new ideas and assist people in a firm to sense the process of change.

A leader has a different personality compared to that of a manager. However, both managers and leaders make priceless contribution to a firm through different contributions. A leader agitates for novel approaches and change. Page, Brin and Schmidt are leaders in their own capacity. They are all tasked with spearheading Google to success. They agitate for novel approaches and change. The three have set a good direction for the organisation and aligned people with the set direction. They also motivate their personnel to action through empowering them and rewarding them handsomely. Brin and Page discovered a new idea and set the direction to capitalise on their new ideas. They provided the product development and technological leadership. Through their agitation for change and development of novel approaches besides directing and guiding its employees, Brin, Page and Schmidt have managed to beat their competitors. The three work together where Page initiates projects, Brin launches advertising initiatives while Schmidt align people with the firm’s direction through communication. Schmidt sets the firm’s overall agenda, provides direction to employees on how to go about their daily duties and communicates to Page and Brin on issues affecting the firm and what needs to be addressed. As leaders, the triumvirate motivates employees through provision of award and reward programs. The three leaders also motivate people through setting a Darwinian environment where every idea competes based on merits and not the title of the sponsor. Page, Brin ad Schmidt also motivates people through encouraging innovation and creativity as well as through setting up mechanisms to share ideas. They also direct and guide employees on how to divide their work. Particularly, Page and Brin dictates the company’s next strategy. Each of the three holds an active and personal attitude and maintains that goals arise from imagination and desire. They are quick to look for new approaches to issues facing the company.

  1. Describe the nature of followership that Brin, Page and Schmidt have sought to develop at Google

There cannot be leadership devoid of followership. Therefore, leadership involves followership. Followership refers to the response of individuals in lower positions in a firm to persons in the senior positions. It is a social link amid followers and their leaders. According to O’Connel and Cuthbertson (2009), followership is defined as a position of submission to leadership. The triumvirate has developed good followership in their company. Brin, Page and Schmidt have adopted several means to ensure feasible followership. They have centred on empowerment and their advance to followership has established self-led followers. Such follower undertakes fascinating activities. The triumvirate have attained a positive followership through their hiring practices, provision of dissimilar employment rewards and empowerment of employees. With regard to hiring, the leadership and management at Google is committed to hiring Class-A talents. They believe that hiring just a single B-level employee to work in their firm would initiate a slide into mediocrity. Potential employees wishing to work for the company must demonstrate excellent skills that are needed to position the firm as the online search market leader. Hiring class-A talents establishes a creative and innovative business setting where innovative workers compete to ensure the constant success of the company.

Followership at Google is based on employee empowerment. According to Roberts (2004), empowerment is an important component in successful organisations. Allowing employees to demonstrate character, ability and maturity in their roles helps in overcoming resistance to change as it allows leadership to interact with major stakeholders exposing them to alternative views. The triumvirate supports bottom-up creativity, problem solving, product development and decision-making. Another way Google develops followership is through generous award programs and rewards. This way, employees with great ideas are prevented from establishing their own business ventures. Google understands that leadership is not synonymous with power, but it is a value entrusted to superiors by subordinates or associates. The firm’s leadership understand that devoid of reward and recognition for employees’ outstanding performance, the employees morale will suffer, hence lack of followership (Smith, 2002). Generous rewards and award programs ensure that talented employees stay longer in the company to ensure its growth and stability,

  1. Using the leadership Grid and its underlying leader behaviours of initiating structure and consideration, explain the leadership orientations of Google’s triumvirate

The leadership grid is created with a focus on attitudes. The major dimensions of the grid are labelled concern for people and concern for results (Nelson, Quick, Wright & Adams, 2012). The leadership grid has prompted several leadership styles, which include, the organisation man manager, authority-compliance manager, country club manager, team manager, impoverished management, and middle-of-the-road management. These attitudinal dimensions are independent of each other and in diverse combinations from different leadership styles. Concern for results focuses on organising and defining work roles besides creating blueprints of communication, organisation and means of ensuring things are done accordingly.

With respect to the analysis of triumvirate leadership at Google, the leaders demonstrate conducts that are high for employee consideration and consideration for results. At Google, consideration is focused on cultivating warm and friendly work relationships while promoting mutual respect and trust among team members. As a result, the leaders embrace a team manager perspective and focus on inspiring their employees to attain high productivity levels while being responsive and flexible to change. According Nelson, Quick, Wright and Adams (2012), a team manger builds a highly effective team of devoted people. The team manager is considered idea and demonstrates great concern for both production and people. Such a leader operates to motivate workers to attain their highest accomplishment levels, to be responsive, flexible to change and comprehends the call for change. Google leadership stress on hiring class-A talents, empower them and provide generous rewards and award programs to motivate them.

  1. Use the concepts of transactional, transformation, charismatic and authentic leaders to describe the leadership of Brin, Page and Schmidt

Nelson, Quick, Wright and Adams (2012) assert that leadership is an exciting field of organisational behaviour. Three novel developments on leadership have surfaced and they include transformational leadership, authentic leadership and charismatic leadership, which comprise of the inspirational leadership theories. Transactional leaders use punishment and rewards to strike deals with followers and shape their conduct. On the contrary, transformational leaders excite and inspire followers to high performance levels. Transformational leaders depend on their personal attributes rather than their official powers. Leaders can be both transactional and transformational because transformational leadership adds to the impacts of transactional leadership although transactional leadership cannot substitute for transformational leadership. Charismatic leadership is as a result of application of personal talents and attributes to have profound effects on followers. Charismatic leaders depend on referent power and are productive during uncertainty. Authentic leadership encompasses transformational, transactional and charismatic leadership as the situation demands. Authentic demonstrate a well-established and conscious sense of value. These leaders function in ways that are consistent with their value systems making demonstrate a highly evolved understanding of moral right.

The triumvirate demonstrates authentic and transformational leadership. However, the triumvirate also demonstrate transactional leadership in that they use rewards to shape the behaviours of their employees. The leadership styles of Brin, Page and Schmidt surpasses transactional leadership centring on engaging workers via a sense of personal value and personal devotion. From the analysis, the three leaders demonstrate qualities of charismatic leaders because they do not use the force of personal talents and abilities to influence followers. They are charismatic because they can sense uncertainty and become productive during this period. Despite the fact that the triumvirate supports their workers, they do not do so based on their personalities but instead support them based on the trust the employees demonstrate in their leaders business decisions, strategy and vision. However, triumvirate demonstrate powerful personalities that have allowed them to address challenges and remain on the top in the competitive business environment. According to Bryson (2009), transformational leaders create and make sense of change. To ensure that their firm stay ahead of its competitors, transformational leaders create a changing environment. Such leaders strive for excellence and deliver on results. Transformational leaders demonstrate intellectual stimulation. Through the triumvirate’s time management plan and focus on hiring of best talents, the leaders make sure that its workforce is stimulated intellectually. The triumvirate is devoted to its employees and established a high level of loyalty. They establish an achieving atmosphere where employees are encouraged to exceed their expectations of themselves. They have a passion, devotion and willingness to make a personal investment in people and organisational outcomes. With regard to authentic leadership, the triumvirate employs authentic leadership through its motor, Don’t be evil’ which centres on a powerful value system. The triumvirate also demonstrate authentic leadership through their desire and commitment to empower their employees According to George (2012), authentic leaders are more interested in empowering their followers to make a difference.They are directed through the qualities of the heart, compassion and passion.


Bryson, J.(2006). Managing information services: A transformational approach. USA: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.

Cameron, E., & Green, M.(2012). Making sense of change management: A complete guide to the models tools and techniques of organisational change. UK: Kogan Page Publishers.

George, B.(2003). Authentic leadership: Rediscovering the secrets to creating lasting value. UK: John Wiley & Sons.

Nelson, D.L., Quick, J.C., Wright, S. & Adams, C. (2012). Organisational Behaviour (Asia Pacific Ed.). South Melbourne, Vic: Cengage Learning Australia. ISBN: 9780170184977 (pbk).

O’Connell, T., & Cuthbertson, B.(2009). Group dynamics in recreation and leisure: Creating conscious groups through an experiential approach. USA: Human Kinetics.

Roberts, G.(2004). Servant leader human resource management: A moral and spiritual perspective. USA: Palgrave Macmillan.

Smith, P.(2002). Rules and tools for leaders (revised). UK: Penguin.

Thomas, A.(2005). Controversies in management: Issues, debates, answers. UK: Routledge.