Brilliant Leadership: Patterns for Creating High-Impact Teams

Suzanne Martin

Publisher: Amplify Publishing Pages: 192 Price: (hardcover) $28.00 ISBN: 9798891381346 Reviewed: May, 2024 Author Website: Visit »

Suzanne Martin, Google director of marketing learning and development, has coached hundreds of staff members in their journey towards developing solid leadership skills. Through this work, she’s discovered that one of the main impediments to transitioning from individual contributor to manager is figuring out what kind of leader to be; what style is the right match for a person’s skill set and interests. Her book, Brilliant Leadership, explores this topic.

Characteristically for a Google employee, Martin’s approach to leadership revolves around data gathering. She offers advice on how to use popular existing tools, such as the Johari Window, in which would-be leaders evaluate their strengths and weaknesses themselves, as well as soliciting feedback from others. She also discusses how to use Google-specific tools such as the P0-P3 priority rank to communicate project urgency to others.

Additionally, Martin touches on creating culture, fostering effective communication, and developing mission statements. Chapters end with a series of self-reflection questions and exercises, intended to output the data that readers need to help them grow.

While much of her advice is common to leadership books, the framing—which gives a rare glimpse into the practices of a well-regarded FANG (Facebook, Amazon/Apple, Netflix, Google) company—is an interesting spin likely to garner attention. Her writing is warm and encouraging, as when she coaches readers to take useful feedback and leave the rest: “You have control. It’s up to you, and you alone, how you want people to perceive you, and how you communicate and work with them as a result.” She urges readers to rethink the idea of leaders as shouters, preeners, and weight-thrower-arounders, instead encouraging them to match their own strengths and skill development efforts to becoming their own kind of leader.

Heavy on invitations to introspection, this is as much a workbook as a guide. It provides a solid starting point for nervous newly-promoted managers hoping to be more Leo McGarry and less Michael Scott.