4 Leadership Lessons from Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google

The internet has been raving about Google CEO Sundar Pichai reply to the sweetest 7-year old girl ever who sent him a letter expressing her dream of working at Google when she is “bigger”.

It is perplexing how one of the most probably busiest person on the planet got the time and interest to send back a reply. It turns out though that his believes and upbringing are the keys to understanding the man who would encourage a 7-year old girl to pursue her dream and give her a strong motive to work hard from such a young age.

Not only can that, but leaders everywhere learn something from the current phenomenal CEO of Google.


1- Never forget your roots:

Sundar Pichai was born and raised in a modest two-room home in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. He was an excellent student, always reading and studying, he was shy and always kept to himself but was very opinionated youngster.

His father “Regunatha Pichai” was the first person who quipped Pichai’s interest in technology as he was an electrical engineer.

His dedication in school earned him a seat in the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur, one of his college professors Sanat Roy said about him: “He was the class topper, meticulous with sharp native intelligence that went much beyond the curriculum. He stood head and shoulders above the rest. Yet, he was unassuming, always looking to be part of the class fabric.”

He also won a scholarship at Stanford University, but getting there was a challenge on its own, his parents ended up withdrawing £1,000 – more than Regunatha earned in a year – to put him on the plane.

His appreciation and deep-rooted acknowledgment to his parents’ devotion and sacrifices to always provide him with the best education and support, has affected his leadership skills immensely.

With Sundar Pichai’s meteoric rise he did not once forget his parents’ support or encouragement to put in the work to follow his dreams.

He even bought them a luxurious flat in Chennai.

This shows why he would take time off his schedule to personally encourage a young girl to work hard and follow her own dream saying: “I think if you keep working hard and following your dreams, you can accomplish everything you set your mind to – from working at Google to swimming in the Olympics.”


2- Focus more on others’ success than your own:

Google CEO practices what he preaches, one of his values is “To not only see your own success, but to focus on the success of others.”

He explained: “As a leader, a lot of your job is to make those people successful. It’s less about trying to be successful (yourself), and more about making sure you have good people and your work is to remove that barrier, remove roadblocks for them so that they can be successful in what they do. So that’s how I’ve always thought about it.”

It’s the job of a real leader to build on and help others in the best way possible to achieve their goals and shoot for the stars because setting up collaborative cultures is where everything comes out from.

This is an eye-opener for the gracious reply to Chloe the 7-year old.

3- Empower youths:

Another thing that Sundae Pichai values is empowering the youngsters. He believes that there is a lot of pressure on today’s youth, he found that 8th graders are working hard to be accepted in IIT – Indian Institute of Technology – and even more shocking fact, that Google CEO hasn’t been the top of his class in school, as it was stated that he was a brilliant student but his geography and history used to let him down so he was never top of his class, he was always around number four.

As we find Pichai saying: “Focus on education is a big strength. I want to see the young people focus on creativity and taking more risks.”

Sundar Pichai recognizes the hard work young people exert and the dream behind every action they do, furthermore, Google provides many opportunities to empower school students.

Like Google annual coding competition -Google Code-in- which was won by Nji, a 17-year old Cameroon boy, overcoming many challenges, he worked from November to mid-January using coding knowledge he taught himself from online sources or books as well as, other skills he learned while going.

Then just a day after the deadline for final submissions, the internet went dead as an act of the government to control the street protests and strikes by lawyers and teachers in his country.

So he made a trip to Yaounde to be able to continue studying and keep in touch with Google.

Which Sundar Pichai tweeted: “So inspired by Nji’s story & look forward to welcoming him and all the winners to the Googleplex.”

So his encouragements are not limited to sweet, independent and ambition 7-year old girls.


4- Stay humble and keep learning:

Sundar Pichai completed his MBA from Wharton University, he climbed the success ladder and contributed to many of the key-products of Google, he was the one who convinced Larry Page and Sergey Brin to launch Google’s own browser, Pichai played a pivotal role in the ultimate launch of Google Chrome in 2008, he kept rising up the ranks in Google, by 2012 he became the Senior Vice President of Chrome and apps.

When Andy Rubin, the creator of Android left to work on a different project, Larry Page assigned Pichai in-charge of Android in 2013. He worked hard still and in 2014 he was promoted to Product Chief.

When Google formed a company Alphabet. Inc, to serve as a holding company in 2015

More about Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google.

With all his achievements you’d think that he would start showing characteristics more like Steve Jobs, but he remained the intelligent, photographic memory for numbers and curious little boy he was back in India.

There is this saying of him that is quite humbling, “It is always good to work with people who make you feel insecure about yourself. That way, you will constantly keep pushing your limits.”

Sundar Pichai is an influential leader with strong beliefs, providing people with needed products that would make their lives better and empowering the next generation as well as, helping and uplifting India technologically.

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