Developing Adaptive Leadership at Google

CLA partnered with Google’s learning organization to design a cross-departmental program developing the leadership capacity of technical managers.


In the midst of rapid expansion, a changing market and a desire to drive leadership skills deeper into the organization, Google sought to augment its already robust leadership development curriculum by offering a flagship program in Adaptive Leadership for senior managers drawn from across the enterprise.

CLA Approach

CLA adopted a three-part strategy to building Google’s Adaptive Leadership capacity. First, we partnered with Google’s learning organization to design a cross-departmental program targeting high potential managers around the world. In the process, we also launched a comprehensive train-the-trainer and apprenticeship program to develop a cadre of Adaptive Leadership proficient faculty within Google’s own leadership development team. With this increased delivery capacity and increasing demand for Adaptive Leadership in the business, CLA and Google then jointly launched a series of business-focused intact team programs and interventions. These programs were custom designed – using Adaptive Leadership principles – for engineering, sales and key infrastructural teams, as well as for critical regional offices.


Adaptive Leadership at Google has grown rapidly and organically since the launch of the program. A critical mass of Google managers, many of whom now occupy senior positions in the organization, has been exposed to and is actively applying the framework. One example of this evolution is a recently launched women and diversity initiative for high-potential executives. The program is built on the backbone of Adaptive Leadership principles in a highly targeted manner, driven entirely by internal demand. Some of Google’s own leadership development staff, who were trained in Adaptive Leadership, have gone on to develop their own internal client portfolios based on their intact team experience with CLA. Furthermore, broader collaboration across projects and organization boundaries is taking place, increasing time to market and innovation rates as well as staff productivity and engagement.