Ex-Google exec reveals the leadership strategy she learned from Larry Page

Few will ever step foot inside the office of Larry Page, CEO of Alphabet, Google's parent company and co-founder of Google.

But Kim Scott, a former Google executive turned top CEO coach, met with the tech leader numerous times.

One such meeting with Page almost went awry, and taught Scott a key leadership lesson.

While leading Google's AdSense team several years ago, Scott was in a meeting with Page and former Google exec Matt Cutts, who now works on tech solutions for the U.S. government.

According to Scott's account in her book "Radical Candor," Page was proposing a new plan, and Cutts apparently didn't agree with it. As Scott writes, Cutts allegedly started "yelling" at Page, the billionaire co-founder of the company.

"I truly thought, 'Wow, here is a colleague I really respect and like raising his voice at Larry Page,'" Scott tells CNBC. "I thought he was going to get fired."

But Page's reaction surprised her. Instead of raising his voice or getting angry, the tech leader simply grinned.

Larry Page
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Larry Page

"Not only did he permit Matt's challenging him," Scott says, "he seemed to relish it."

The Google co-founder appreciated the feedback and challenge, Scott says. The three ended up having a productive and collaborative conversation, and Cutts, who was not fired, stayed at Google for years.

Amazed, Scott decided to adopt Page's strategy, encouraging employees to speak up in meetings and offer her constructive feedback.

Scott, who as a CEO coach has advised C-suite clients at Dropbox, Twitter and other top companies, says other leaders should encourage more open and honest conversations. When done in a professional manner, team members can share their knowledge and expertise in a way that makes their teammates more productive and leaders more informed.

Kim Scott, former Google exec and CEO coach.
First Round
Kim Scott, former Google exec and CEO coach.

Scott isn't the only one has spoken about the benefits of honest and direct conversations.

According to self-made millionaire and serial entrepreneur Marcus Lemonis, being able to form an argument for an idea and having the courage to state it — even to the point of challenging your boss — can make you stand out, in a good way.

For Ursula Burns, chairwoman and former CEO of Xerox, having the courage to challenge a VP in a meeting, which she thought would get her fired, actually fast-tracked her career.

As Scott writes, "Caring personally about people even as you challenge them will build the best relationships of your career."

Cutts and Google's press team did not respond to request for comment