Larry Page is an American internet entrepreneur best known as the co-founder of Google. He was the company’s first CEO in 1997 and eventually became the CEO of its parent company Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL). This helped him become one of the 10 wealthiest people in the world, with Forbes pegging his net worth at $89.7 billion in March 2021.
He’s a talented computer scientist who helped create PageRank, Google’s search ranking algorithm, alongside Google co-creator Sergey Brin. But how much do you know about the Larry Page leadership style?
Like Steve Jobs, Page left the helm of the company he created. He was anti-fascist in his leadership and even documented five management tenets all management must follow. Above all else, he railed against having non-technical people managing engineers, as they didn’t understand what it was like.
This disgruntled many within the company, while still gaining traction in the company culture. Page obsessed over milliseconds in processing speeds; a trait that was reported to drive even his most loyal engineers to the brink of frustration.
Let’s dive into what makes Larry Page an innovative and iconic American business leader in the technology sector.
What Are the 4 Types of Leadership Styles?
Before digging into Page’s specific leadership style, it’s important to understand what the different styles are.
Four types of leadership styles sum up how the leader interacts with group members. Each style reflects the personality and philosophy of the leader.
There are four primary leadership types:
1. Autocratic Leadership
2. Democratic Leadership
3. Laisse-Faire Leadership
4. Paternalistic Leadership
Here’s a deeper breakdown (along with pros and cons) of each type of leadership.
An autocratic leader relies on coercion and issues orders with the expectation of them being obeyed. These leaders make the rules and enforce them with an iron fist.
You’re to follow orders without much information as to the why, which streamlines decision making while creating derision among subordinates.
Democratic leaders rely on group decisions for all policies, which respects the opinion of all employees. This gives each employee a sense of ownership over the company while increasing acceptance of management ideas.
However, it dilutes accountability while slowing the process down. Compromises often have to be made to please everyone, which removes the apex performance from a company.
Taking things further, laissez-faire leaders give their team free reign to assert their independence at work. Instead of taking the lead from the front, these leaders abdicate the position to limit authority and entrust decisions to the team.
It’s the most permissive leadership style and gives everyone a chance to develop individually. However, there can be a lack of direction or cohesion.
A paternalistic leader assumes the role of a patriarch or matriarch of the company. This leadership type treats the business as a family, assuming the head of household duties like protecting, guiding, and helping each member.
In addition, the workplace is more of a home, and managers are invested in the long-term development of employees, even if they decide to move on to another company.
With that context, what was Larry Page’s leadership style? He had a large hand in shaping the culture of one of the world’s largest companies in the technology sector and broader market.
What Leadership Style Did Larry Page Have?
Page is a democratic leader with paternalistic and laissez-faire leanings.
He helped to create the work atmosphere for which Alphabet (GOOG) is famous. The Googleplex is known as one of the most innovative workplaces in the world, including free food, laundry and fitness centers, on-site childcare, and more.
He urged employees to believe in crazy ideas that can change the world. And he removed much of the red tape from the democratic process by asking everyone on staff to give him 60-word updates on their projects daily.
Because he’s an introvert, Page fostered an environment where employees could be proactive. He inspired his engineers to believe in him by avoiding autocracy. Page took a personal hand in Google’s hiring to ensure he set the stage at the start, and that helped build the company’s reputation among the workforce.
And during the pandemic, Alphabet was among the first companies to allow employees to work from home. Of course, Page stepped down in December 2019, right before the deadly viral epidemic hit. This put Google CEO Sundar Pichai in charge of carrying out Page’s plans for Alphabet during a global crisis.
What Type of Leadership Style Does Google Have?
Google’s leadership style is called distributed leadership, and it’s a blend of the styles mentioned above. That’s because Page and Eric Schmidt had different styles that mixed to create the company’s culture. The company was initially more laissez faire and focused entirely on hiring and promoting talented engineers.
Some managers thrived in this free-wheeling environment, while others floundered. This began an internal research project to determine the best path forward.
After collecting and analyzing all the data it could from performance reviews, surveys, and other feedback methods, the company zeroed in on eight key leadership fundamentals.
The company also forced itself to go against its own cultural bias toward engineers to allow non-technical specialists to perform their jobs.
There are plenty of non-technical people working in technology, and they do a great job of understanding accounting, human resources, marketing, and more. While technology is important for these departments, the people bring a different skillset that’s important to understand.
Balancing technical knowledge and people management is the foundation for a solid leadership team. And Page was simply one part of a bigger puzzle at Google.
What Leadership Qualities Does Larry Page Have?
Page is both creative and intelligent, and his passion fueled his ambition to collaborate with other engineers to create a venerable force in the technology sector. He treats employees like family, and he fostered a healthy environment at Google that propelled the company to the front of a very competitive pack.
He is no fan of bureaucracy and did everything he could to open doors for employees to speak with management. Page pushed his leadership to stay in touch with their teams, and he participated in a lot of aspects of the business that many C-suite executives ignore, like the hiring process.
Traditional management was a pain for Page, who believes in empowering people to perform their best. It’s because of his dedication to his people that Google rose from a search engine to one of the most powerful marketing forces today.
Why Is Larry Page a Good Leader?
Page believed no idea was too crazy and accepted all contributions for exploration, which led to enormous innovation at Google (GOOG). This quality contributed to his reputation as a great leader who believed in his people and encouraged them to succeed.
Under his stewardship, Google became a powerhouse of research and development and gained a reputation for disruptive innovation.
He wanted to tackle the biggest problems in the world to attract the best people to help him solve them. Instead of resting on his laurels from past successes, Page always pushed his team to seek out new horizons.
He also rolled his sleeves up to interview top candidates who he wanted to join his team. Page was an employee-focused manager who treated people well, but he also worked to only onboard the best of the best. After involving himself in crucial decisions, he stepped back to let people resolve problems on their own.
In doing so, Page fostered a culture that propelled the company to be among the select few companies ever to reach a trillion dollar market capitalization. Page left the helm of Alphabet in 2019, leaving the mantle to Pichai.
What Does Larry Page Do Now?
Now that he’s stepped down, Page generally stays out of the public eye. By all accounts, he likes to remains indoors and away from the spotlight. Still under 50, he has plenty of time to spend on his personal life and new projects.
As one of the wealthiest people in the world, Page invested in Tesla and believes in philanthropy. He still funds scholarships at Singularity University, a think tank working on transhumanist issues. In addition to his large house, Page owns a $45 million superyacht.
He suffers from vocal cord issues and the company regularly donates to medical causes. Beyond that, he’s enjoying his retirement and being out of the spotlight. Still, Page remains one of the great leaders of modern time, and there’s no telling what else he will accomplish in the back half of his life.
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