At this point, you've probably heard about "Google's Ideological Echo Chamber," a controversial memo written by a Google employee that went viral over the weekend.

The 10-page manifesto argues (among other things) that women on average have a "lower stress tolerance" and are more prone to "neuroticism" than men. According to the author, these traits are due to fundamental "biological differences" and make men and women better suited for different kinds of jobs.

At this point, I've read the memo multiple times, which has brought me to the following conclusion: The main reason it's so divisive--and dangerous--is the author mixes his outrageous reasoning with other points that are more grounded.

Most would acknowledge that most men and women differ fundamentally in certain areas. (I strongly disagree with the conclusions the author derives from that, however.) And the author may have a point when he says the company "has created an ideological echo chamber where some ideas are too sacred to be honestly discussed," due largely to a "shaming culture and the possibility of being fired."

One thing is certain, though: This manifesto has sparked very strong emotions on both sides of the issue.

Which is exactly why I feel Google CEO Sundar Pichai's response is so great.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai's response.

To deal with a matter as complex as this one is no easy task. But here is where Pichai demonstrates what makes him such an effective leader.

Google's chief executive, who was on a family vacation when the outrage began, was quick to respond with a message of his own, in an email he sent to employees.

This paragraph alone is pure gold:

First, let me say that we strongly support the right of Googlers to express themselves, and much of what was in that memo is fair to debate, regardless of whether a vast majority of Googlers disagree with it. However, portions of the memo violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace. Our job is to build great products for users that make a difference in their lives. To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK. It is contrary to our basic values and our Code of Conduct, which expects "each Googler to do their utmost to create a workplace culture that is free of harassment, intimidation, bias and unlawful discrimination."

The entire email is six short paragraphs. (You can find it in full at the end of this piece.) Here are a few things that make it an outstanding lesson in leadership.

1. It was swift, yet thoughtful.

Incidents like this one have the propensity to blow up extremely quickly, doing lots of irreparable damage. It's probable Pichai had help forming his response, but the fact that he thoughtfully addressed multiple issues in such a short time is pretty remarkable.

2. It acknowledges the criticism.

Pichai recognizes that "many points raised in the memo--such as the portions criticizing Google's trainings ... are important topics" and that "the author had a right to express their views on those topics."

It never feels good to hear criticism of ideas or institutions we care about, but this type of feedback is invaluable.

Why?

Because most criticism is rooted in at least some truth, and these insights can lead to genuine improvement. Further, feedback like this helps you to address blind spots and understand alternate perspectives.

By acknowledging that much of the memo "is fair to debate," regardless of whether or not Googlers agree with it, Pichai attempts to encourage dissenting opinions--and follows in the footsteps of other notable CEOs.

3. It sets the example.

"I'd encourage each of you to make an effort over the coming days to reach out to those who might have different perspectives from your own," says Pichai.

"I will be doing the same."

If Pichai truly wants a culture that benefits from alternate perspectives, he needs to prove it. Putting himself out there is the first step.

4. It doesn't try to do too much.

The issues that the memo has brought up were years in the making. A swift (initial) response was necessary, but these problems won't be solved overnight.

Pichai realizes this, which is why he has boiled the message down to the most important points.

5. It's empathetic--to both sides.

Pichai addresses the emotional pain experienced by a number of employees, by stating they "shouldn't have to worry that each time they open their mouths to speak in a meeting, they have to prove that they are not like the memo states, being 'agreeable' rather than 'assertive,' showing a 'lower stress tolerance,' or being 'neurotic.'"

However, he also empathizes with those on the other side of the spectrum:

"At the same time, there are co-workers who are questioning whether they can safely express their views in the workplace (especially those with a minority viewpoint)," he writes. "They too feel under threat, and that is also not OK. People must feel free to express dissent."

Interestingly, the author of the "Echo Chamber" memo called for colleagues to "de-emphasize empathy," claiming that "being emotionally unengaged helps us better reason about the facts."

But this is where the author went wrong.

It's impossible for people to be "emotionally unengaged." Emotions are part of what makes us human; rather than suppress our feelings, we need to find a way to embrace them and make them work for us, instead of against us.

By acknowledging this, and working to see from both perspectives, Pichai gets it right.

Moving forward.

For Pichai, now comes the really hard part.

If you haven't heard, the author of the memo has been fired by Google, reportedly for violating the company's code of conduct.

This single action will make it exceedingly difficult for Pichai to live up to his words, namely, that Google continues to encourage people to express dissenting views, without fear of losing their jobs or experiencing other retaliation from the company (or their colleagues).

Notably, the subject line of Pichai's email to Google employees was "Our words matter."

And he's absolutely right.

But actions matter even more--so let's see where Google goes from here.

Here is Google CEO Sundar Pichai's email to employees, as posted on Google's official blog:

This has been a very difficult time. I wanted to provide an update on the memo that was circulated over this past week.

First, let me say that we strongly support the right of Googlers to express themselves, and much of what was in that memo is fair to debate, regardless of whether a vast majority of Googlers disagree with it. However, portions of the memo violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace. Our job is to build great products for users that make a difference in their lives. To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK. It is contrary to our basic values and our Code of Conduct, which expects "each Googler to do their utmost to create a workplace culture that is free of harassment, intimidation, bias and unlawful discrimination."

The memo has clearly impacted our co-workers, some of whom are hurting and feel judged based on their gender. Our co-workers shouldn't have to worry that each time they open their mouths to speak in a meeting, they have to prove that they are not like the memo states, being "agreeable" rather than "assertive," showing a "lower stress tolerance," or being "neurotic."

At the same time, there are co-workers who are questioning whether they can safely express their views in the workplace (especially those with a minority viewpoint). They too feel under threat, and that is also not OK. People must feel free to express dissent. So to be clear again, many points raised in the memo--such as the portions criticizing Google's trainings, questioning the role of ideology in the workplace, and debating whether programs for women and underserved groups are sufficiently open to all--are important topics. The author had a right to express their views on those topics--we encourage an environment in which people can do this and it remains our policy to not take action against anyone for prompting these discussions.

The past few days have been very difficult for many at the company, and we need to find a way to debate issues on which we might disagree--while doing so in line with our Code of Conduct. I'd encourage each of you to make an effort over the coming days to reach out to those who might have different perspectives from your own. I will be doing the same.

I have been on work related travel in Africa and Europe the past couple of weeks and had just started my family vacation here this week. I have decided to return tomorrow as clearly there's a lot more to discuss as a group--including how we create a more inclusive environment for all.