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Sundar Pichai


This study is aimed to survey the leadership of the Google CEO, Sundar Pichai. To understand the reasons that led Pichai to occupying the position of an executive manager in the biggest company in the world, it is appropriate to detect and analyzing his personal and professional characteristics. Besides, one should discuss the peculiarities of authentic leadership model that is implemented by this CEO. Moreover, comprehending the role of innovative management in the process of constant improvement of the technological knowhows, it is necessary to observe how Sundar Pichai utilizes his discovery skills of associative thinking, questioning, observing, experimenting, and networking. The derived findings are based on the qualitative data that was retrieved by investigating reputable sources such as journal articles that were published within the last 5 years. The obtained data reveals that Pichai’s approach to maintain the workflow basing on cooperation and diplomacy that is typical for the horizontal authentic leadership, perfectly complies with his endeavor to flourish innovative culture at the worksite. As a result, Pichai succeeds in inspiring the staff to embrace and generate technological innovations, which allows providing constant improvement of Google products.

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Sundar Pichai is the CEO of Google. Given that Google is the greatest corporation in the world in terms of profits, the leadership of Sundar Pichai evokes strong interest. To understand the reasons of Pinchai’s success it is necessary to identify and discuss his leadership style and investigate the CEO’s skills that are necessary for conducting an effective organizational change. Specifically, this paper is aimed to analyze Pinchai’s authentic leadership and explore his skills of innovative management, such as associative thinking, questioning, observing, experimenting, and networking.


The work performance of Pinchai has brought success to his company, in particular, Google managed to successfully overcome the rivals’ threat imposed by Microsoft and Mozilla. This intense period of fighting for company’s sustainability was the breaking point that revealed the true leadership skills of Pichai. It is necessary to clarify that his success is stipulated by the genuine interest and loyalty towards the company he works for. Therefore, Pichai’s attitude and favorable working conditions make him become one of the central players. Scholars define that these individuals are “the 3% to 5% of people in any network who account for up to 35% of the value-added contributions”. Without a doubt the value added by Pichai was growing quit rapidly, --it took him about 10 years to become the CEO of Google. To a great extent, his promotion is stipulated by the ability to make the right steps in the right time.

At the time of crisis, “Pichai had already made his mark as a director of product management for an obscure but important weapon in the company’s arsenal: the Google toolbar”.Impressive professional and personal skills of the discussed person were especially noticeable during the hard times. Probably, one of the most remarkable achievements of Pichai is the assistance in developing “the Chrome operating system for laptops, which stores data in the cloud rather than locally on a device”. Moreover, he was working at improving the Android operational system with the purpose to improve its functionality. Moreover, one should stress that Pichai revealed the ability to predict and anticipate conflicts (for example, competition-based). This personal feature became a great strength of this executive because being diplomatic is an essential quality of good interpersonal relations, including leadership.

As a result, the earnest endeavor of Pichai to help Google overcome the intense completion was positively praised and “after the launch of Chrome, Pichai was promoted to vice president and later to senior vice president”. In this regard, one should accentuate that leadership characteristics of the current Google CEO are innate. Consider the rationale, Pichai managed to excel in being an executive of the biggest world company “even though he was trained, solidly, in the world of “atoms,” as a metallurgical engineer”. This peculiarity implies that the analytical thinking of Pichai is combined with strong emotional intelligence and intuition. Scholars accentuate that the integrated thinking is an important competitive advantage of a leader. Without a doubt, the authentic leadership of Google CEO is positively related to the aforementioned combination of analytical and intuitive approaches while conducting innovative change.

Specifically, to be capable of becoming a good leader, it is essential to detect the company’s strengths and weaknesses, identify the needed chances, create a plan of their implementation and anticipate the plausible complications, such as resistance to change, etc. Besides, to inspire the staff for embracing the chance, it is necessary to be respected and admired by co-workers, in other words, to have authority to lead them. In this regard, the promotion of Pichai was praised positively as a fair approach because this individual gained a positive reputation inside the company. For instance, a co-worker of Pichai reported his promotion with the following words “I’ve been tremendously enjoying our work together. . . .Sergey [Brin] and I have been super excited about his progress and dedication to the company”. Similar strong positive appraisal was revealed by a vice president who was a co-worker of Pichar: “I would challenge you to find anyone at Google who doesn’t like Sundar”.It goes without saying that the respect of co-workers is a good platform for implementing authentic leadership.

What is more, Sundar Pichai enjoys the trust of the board of directors. Consider the evidence, in 2015 “89% of Google’s $66 billion in revenues came in through the division Pichai will lead”. Undoubtedly, Pichai is given a great power, but at the same time, he has huge responsibility to justify the trust of the stakeholders. Therefore, applying to the proper leadership style and implementing efficient innovations are crucial approaches of the present Google CEO.

Applying an Appropriate Leadership Model

Authentic leadership of Sundur Pichai is manifested through developing honest and trustworthy relations with the staff and shareholders. Besides, it is observed in the CEO’s strong motivation to ensure financial prosperity of the headed company. In addition, Pichai is extremely result-oriented, which led him to the position of the executive manager of largest company in the world. This personal characteristic is also the evidence of an authentic leader. What is more, Pichai is oriented to maintain Google’s success in a long-run. Moreover, his leadership is maintained partly emotionally.

Applying to the irrational side is another evidence of authentic leadership. In this regard, scholars believe that “management can discourage innovation by overdependence on the scientific method, or “prove it” processes”. In contrast, Pichai feels intuitively the right approaches and strives to take an active participation in the process of elaborating/testing/improving of the company’s innovations. Furthermore, an important parameter of the authentic leadership model is the ability to show the staff that the implemented changes generate concrete positive results. All aforementioned qualities and approaches are characteristic for Sundar Pichai.

The above-described theoretical insights about the nature and outcomes of authentic leadership can be supported with the qualitative data obtained during the face-to-face interview with the Google CEO. Specifically, the executive reports that “they are progressing at an incredible rate”.Therefore, the employees can observe the results of their joint endeavor to ensure the prosperity of Google. In addition, Pichai claims that he actively participates in the working process and strives to help to his subordinates. The manager is highly oriented to towards the long-term perspectives of anticipating the threat of rivalry and maintaining leadership position. Thus, the CEO emphasizes that the today’s priority of the staff is to improve the work of Google by making it more intelligent. This testimony illustrates the effective implementation of the authentic leadership model.

In this regard, one should accentuate that the discussed leadership style is rather efficient for conducting continuous changes. For example, Pichai states that advancing Google implies revising and moderating its qualitative and functional proprieties. To ensure the positive customers’ experience and, respectfully, appraisal of technological innovations, Google employees are expected to maintain innovative thinking and be capable of working with constantly updated data. In other words, Puchai, with his own example, and strong emotional intelligence encourages the staff not only to be ready for changes, but rather to be the generators of innovations.

The employees’ respect and readiness to follow predefines that the influence on the staff is made by maintaining horizontal leadership. This leadership strategy becomes possible because Sundar Pichai is considered to be “self-deprecating, empathetic, supportive and graceful”. Consequently, the loyalty of his team is conquered by the CEO’s positive personality rather than by his position of a supervisor. The next section is aimed to discuss in detail the leadership skills of Pichai, which enables to create innovation-based culture of Google.

Use of Discovery Skills to Promote Innovation and Manage Change

Associative Thinking

Undoubtedly, innovations require creating approaches; thus, leaders are expected to be creative. In this regard, the aforementioned insights stress that Sundar Pichai possesses a well-developed creativity. Scholars believe that creativity can be distinguished as the ability to connect the matters (especially those, which at first sight, seem to be unrelated). To illustrate the creativity of the Google CEO, one should refer to the following example. Android 1 is the creation of Pichai, which comprises “a set of competitive specifications that allow manufacturers to produce affordable smartphones with the latest hardware”. Without a doubt, the approach to combine the quality of the latest knowhows with affordable prices is a matter of creativity. In these conditions, Picai’s authentic leadership style serves to inspire similar goals in the minds of subordinates, which is supposed to facilitate the acceptance of technological innovation and encourage the new ideas towards optimizing this process.


Innovative leadership requires in-depth analysis of the company’s environment with the purpose to detect and define the objectives that can be blended together into certain innovation. Experts stress that “innovators are consummate questioners who show a passion for inquiry”. As it was described above, Sundar Pichai displayed strong interest in finding benevolent technological innovations as well as in developing the problem-preventive communication techniques with stakeholders and competitors. For example, in the recent interview, the Google CEO reports that he strives to improve the properties of Google and keeping this goal in mind he always questions what can be done to advance the present technology.The adherence to constant information seeking is passed and shared with the rest of the team, which fastens and facilitates innovative processes.


It goes without saying that the process of searching for relevant and credible information presumes integrating questioning with observing. In fact, these processes are inseparable because one stems from the other. The leaders who are going to conduct innovative change observe “customers, products, services, technologies, and companies—and the observations help them gain insights into and ideas for new ways of doing things”. For instance, Pichai observes the world map to define the new plausible markets, as a result, he identifies that the developing economies of China and India are valuable destinations. In these regard, it is essential to question what needs to be done to make the penetration for successful. As a result, the innovative idea to produce modern operational systems for affordable prices originates as an innovative strategy.


To develop the new insights and test the ideas obtained thanks to observing and questioning, it is natural to conduct experimenting. Experimenters, such as Pichai tends to investigate “the world intellectually and experientially, holding convictions at bay and testing hypotheses along the way”. The value of trial-and-error can not be overestimated because it is the main scientific approach towards finding the desired ways of realizing the desired goals. Without a doubt, innovative leadership requires lots of experimenting. That is why, as was described above, the improvement of the Google’s products is conducted in several steps. It is necessary to emphasize that experimenting suggests not only positive discoveries but failed attempts. In other words, not all innovations are workable and effective and, that is why, it is important to define the most effective innovations by applying to trial-and-error strategy.


Similarly to other innovative skills, networking heavily relies on the creativity of the manager who is going to implement a change. Networking is a way to connect different groups of employees (and possibly other stakeholders) gathering them under the denominator of similar goals. For example, inside a company, it is necessary to connect central players, who are responsible for the process of manufacturing with “fringe participants” who are known to generate the new ideas, and brokers, who “can turn ideas into actions because of their cross-functional ties within the company”. This approach implies the importance of collaboration, which is positively related with the authentic leadership style. As a result, successfully elaborated networking is a favorable environment for rearing innovations. In addition, it is necessary to mention that some individuals, and Pichai is a vivid example, comprise simultaneously the qualities of diverse players, which makes them to be valuable employees and leaders.

Lessons Learned

This project, the investigation of the ways in which the modern leadership style complies with innovative management, reveals the following insights. The ability to lead people stem from the integrated thinking: the mixture of analytical and irrational approaches towards problem-anticipating and solving. Besides, good leaders possess innate personal characteristics that are crucial for leading people. In this first place, these personal features are manifested in an individual’s ability to construct mutually beneficial interpersonal relations basing on the principles of collaboration and diplomacy. Cooperation and diplomacy of a leader predefine the formation of a horizontal leadership, which supports the development of the creative environment at the worksite since the minds of employees are not put into certain frames.

In this regard, one should stress that the authentic leadership model incorporates the above-described characteristics. An authentic leader unites his/her staff under the similar goals and passes to employees the insights about personal innovative ideas that need to be tested, reviewed, and implemented into life. Consequently, authentic leadership is suitable and advantageous for constructing the innovative culture at the workplace. To be more precise, to be capable of rearing the team of workers who are ready to embrace innovative changes and become the drivers of creative ideas, a leader should possess certain discovery skills. Promoting innovation and managing change, leaders must be able to conduct associative thinking, questioning, observing, experimenting, and networking. These skills correspond with the appropriate stages of change management.

Managers should encourage their subordinates to development the same framework of decision-making. Associating thinking, observing, and questioning are interrelated processes that are aimed at finding the new ways of improving the organizational chart and culture, and optimizing the process of manufacturing, marketing, distribution of the goods and services. It is necessary to accentuate that authentic leaders possess these skills by themselves and be capable of identifying the similar creative approaches in their workers. Furthermore, experimenting is the next crucial step of innovative change. At this phase, leaders and their staff explore the viability of the discovered insights. Test-driving the ideas requires detecting whether the pivotal premises can be actually put into action. In a case, if the innovation is feasible and efficient, the leader’s skills in networking stipulate the practical implementation of the desired change. Probably, networking is the most challenging stage of innovative management because it suggests the highest level of employees’ involvement, which implies that the skills of leadership are supposed to be most prominent at this phase.

In this regard, authentic leadership is a proper way of managing the workers’ performance because it allows governing a great amount of people at the same time without monitoring the work of every particular employee. Instead, authentic leaders utilize horizontal governing that is based on cooperating with subordinates and inspiring them to implement the integrated thinking for innovative decision-making. In other words, the impact and, respectfully, control over the staff is done indirectly, which enables leaders to optimize the process of management and grant individuals with a greater freedom of action that is vital for creativity.


Summing up, one should accentuate that Sundar Pichai, the present CEO of Google, excels in managing the largest corporation in the world thanks to his innate and acquired leadership skills. The earnest aspiration to maintain a long-run success of his company is one of the distinguishing features of this leader. To manage the corporation, Pichai applies to authentic leadership model, which complies with his personal characteristics. Specifically, Pichai prefers to maintain horizontal leadership that presumes profound communication, collaboration, diplomacy, and inspiration of subordinated to work as one team to accomplish similar goals. The authentic leadership of Pichai is in compliance with his innovative management that implies that the Google CEO possesses the discovery skills of assistive thinking, questioning, observing, experimenting, and networking. What is more, Sundar Pichai is capable of rearing the similar qualities in his employees, which contributes to the success of Google by creating favorable conditions for technological innovations.

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