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Lots of Advice for Google's New CEO

As Larry Page takes over from Eric Schmidt as CEO of Google, he'll be doing what many before him have done: learning how to lead. Like those many predecessors, he may think he's already done so much, so completely proved himself, that he has nothing to learn. Let's hope not. No matter what role you've held in a business before you take over its leadership, being CEO is a fresh, new challenge. Many will expect - even hope for - failure. Here are 7 tips how to avoid that.

1. Create a Better Network
Even though you think you know everyone, you almost certainly don't have the leadership network you need. By that, I don't mean friends and colleagues willing to dole out advice; anyone can do that. What I mean is a trusted circle of confidantes who have only the company's best interest at heart. Everyone working for you has a personal agenda. Experts - lawyers, accountants, engineers, bankers - have technical agendas. You need smart, experienced people with no agenda whom you can call on at any time. Saj-Nicole Joni calls these people Third Opinions or Thinking Partners. You'll need them; everyone needs them.

2. Choose Your Focus
You can dive into the stream and get tied up in execution or you can gaze far into the distance. You can't do both. So you have to choose where your focus lies and make sure other(s) are covering the rest. If you try to do both all the time, you will drive yourself and everyone else mad.

3. Beware of the Company Culture
Culture and cult are related and signal danger. However highly we prize culture - and all companies do - it contains the implicit risk of homogeneity. If everyone is thinking the same way, you won't get enough debate or conflict. Instead of complex vision, you'll get myopia. That means you need not to fear but to prize diversity and the managed conflict it should give rise to. If there isn't any conflict; you're not doing diversity.

4. Don't Be a Workaholic

Google already has a bad reputation - especially among women - for being a place where no one ever goes home. That's one reason a lot of great female engineers wouldn't be caught dead working there. Many leaders mistake these long hours for commitment, but it isn't. It signals fear and a lack of imagination. Both of these are dangerous. When brains are tired, the first thing that degrades is critical and creative thinking: the quality of mind that companies like Google most need. So set a good example: go home. If you do, the rest can. If you don't, no one else will.

5. Be Wary of Your New Power

Many leaders think power is the ultimate goal. What most fail to appreciate, once they have it, is how far power is a poisoned chalice. People with power are more optimistic, more abstract in their thinking and feel more protected from the consequences of their actions. Worst of all, people with power suffer from the obedience of others: no one will argue when you're wrong. If you think this sounds great, you're already in trouble. Richard Fuld, Kenneth Lay, John Browne, Tony Hayward, Jeff Skilling, Dennis Koslowski: these are the pin ups of corporate power. They didn't think they could go wrong either.

6. Don't Use Money as the Lure

Many of the best minds at Google left before the IPO. That should tell you everything you need to know about motivation. If people are joining Google now for the money, they're almost certainly not the ones you want. Cut pay by 10% and see who stays.

7. Do Good
"Don't do evil" was a good enough mantra when the company was in its infancy. It won't do now. The extremely dominant position that Google now occupies can be a force for good, but only deliberately. If you still believe that the only ethical responsibility a company has is to its shareholders, you're already out of touch. You may not like governments but you aren't above them nor should Google seek to be. How a business relates effectively with society is the question of our age and we need smart people like you to help figure that out.

8. Have Fun
The great thing about running a company - especially one that can inspire as much devotion as Google - is that you have the opportunity to develop good people into great ones. That's your ultimate report card. It's a great job and if it stops being fun, quit.

Do you have any advice you would add to my list?

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