You know what Google is. Everyone does, right?

It is home to a bunch of nerds who write code and crunch numbers all day so that its parent company, Alphabet, remains one of the most valuable companies in the world.

“Conventional wisdom about 21st century skills holds that students need to master the STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and math – and learn how to code as well because that’s where the jobs are,” writes Valerie Strauss, writing for The Washington Post.

You would think that Google would be the perfect model for this sort of thinking.

And you would be wrong.

Turns out that Google, which may conduct more research on its employees than any other company in the world, had learned a valuable lesson that contradicts the notion that STEM is the key to individual and organizational success in today’s technology-driven world.

What it learned as that among the eight most important qualities of Google’s top employees, STEM expertise comes in dead last.

The seven top characteristics of success at Google are all soft skills:

  • being a good coach;
  • communicating and listening well;
  • possessing insights into others (including others different values and points of view);
  • having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues;
  • being a good critical thinker and problem solver; and,
  • being able to make connections across complex ideas.

To read more about the lessons Google learned in its study, read a short report by Cathy N. Davidson, a member of the Mozilla Foundation board of directors and author of the new book, The New Education: How to Revolutionize the University to Prepare Students for a World in Flux.