Larry Page became famous for co-founding Google, a company that literally changed the way the world learned. Not satisfied with this achievement, Page and Google co-founder Sergey Brin invested time and resources in innovative products used by billions, products like Google Maps, the Android operating system, and YouTube.

This spirit has continued over the years. In the most recent founders' letter (published on the homepage for Alphabet, the conglomerate that oversees Google and a host of other companies), Page gives brief updates on:

  • Google's progress in the areas of AI and machine learning;
  • Waymo, a company which develops self-driving cars, and its new partnership with Fiat Chrysler;
  • Nest, a manufacturer of IOT products.

So, how in the world do Page and Brin continue to drive such major innovation, year after year?

It all comes down to three, simple words:

Train and delegate.

The power of good training and delegation.

If you've ever led a team, you probably recognize the importance of spreading out the workload and identifying the right person for the right job.

Yet, you may have found it difficult to follow through on that philosophy--at least, at times.

Why is that?

The answer depends on a variety of factors, but it often involves a combination of the following reasons:

  • You enjoy the work, and don't really want to give it up.
  • You don't truly trust your people.
  • You don't have the time to train or restructure (or simply don't feel like it).
  • You don't want someone else to get the credit.
  • You're afraid of losing control.

These reasons tie in deeply with our emotions, which can easily cloud rational thinking and hinder us from making good decisions. (That's just one way emotions can work against you, a topic I explore in my forthcoming book, EQ, Applied.)

But notice the opposite tone Page demonstrates in his letter, evident in the following excerpts.

On Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google:

"Sundar is doing great as Google CEO. It's certainly a big job and we are very lucky to have him... I'm excited about how he is leading the company with a focus on machine learning and AI."

On Waymo CEO John Crafcik:

"John Krafcik is the new CEO and brings significant auto industry experience. I love the name and I love even more the excitement you can see when you visit with them!... I can't wait until Waymo launches."

On Nest CEO Marwan Fawaz:

"He has been doing great against their plan, and we have really been enjoying working with him!"

Page continues by summarizing why he and his fellow executives created Alphabet in the first place, and the benefits of doing so:

"With the change to Alphabet, oversight has been easier because of increased visibility. We have streamlined efforts where it made sense and in other areas we have seen places to double down. I also think we have learned a lot about how to set up new companies with a structure for success.

...Sergey and I are having a good time looking for new opportunities and managing and scaling our existing efforts. I still see amazing opportunities that just aren't quite fully developed yet--and helping making them real is what I get excited about."

Truly effective leaders recognize the need to hand off the work they care most about to others, because doing so allows you to have a greater overall impact, and increases the amount of work that can be accomplished. In addition, taking time to train and delegate others allows you to demonstrate your confidence in them.

When your people get the right guidance and the space they need, and know that you've got their backs, they'll fulfill their potential.

And that's what great companies are made of.

Published on: May 1, 2017
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