You are on page 1of 13

Broadly defined, a leader is someone who sets a direction for a company.

This vision needs to be created and then fiercely believed and upheld. The leader must inspire others to work toward the vision. To do this well, a leader has to first be followed, trusted, and respected by their subordinates. Typically leaders have this vision because they also have a strong aspiration to make their mark on things. They arent happy with the way things are and believe they can make a substantial change. These characteristics may seem to make a person egotistical and arrogant but a good leader is still able to admit to and learn from faults or mistakes.

What is Bill Gates leadership style? Bill Gates was great at setting direction for the company. He had a vision of the world and successfully moved Microsoft in that direction. That vision was a computer on every desk and in every home. Gates started the first major software company at a time when personal computing hardly existed a radical change that has helped lead us into the Information Era. Gates believes, it will affect the world seismically, rocking us in the same way the discovery of the scientific method, the invention of printing did. This is the first mark of a transformational leader. He had a major commitment to a huge goal and backed it with his own values and beliefs. In his book, Business the Bill Gates Way, Des Dearlove writes, Bill Gates is a modern business phenomenon: the greatest of the cyber-tycoons. His is not simply a story of technical brilliance and enormous wealth; it is one of remarkable business vision and an obsessive desire to win. It is also about a leadership style that is radically different to anything the business world has seen before. He not only wanted his company to make an impact on the world, but he wanted to be driving the bus that did it. He did this with a combination of leadership styles. Gates is directive in terms of what he wants and the strategy of the company. He has accepted that his major role is to be the visionary. He likes confrontation in a sense that he wants things out in the open so they can be dealt with and resolved. He had the ability to respond to market changes by quickly reinventing the company. He is also, however, participative and consultative. He does seek advice from subordinates but makes his own decisions. During his reign he considered the input of all employees and in most cases even responded to their emails within 24 hours. Gates also participated in what Microsoft calls Think Week. Think Week is where Gates is the sole reader of over 100 documents written by employees pertaining to company issues and future technology. Decentralizing the process of gathering information led to a stronger company and helped stay away from the bureaucracy that Gates did not want. This also helps him gain the trust of his employees. It shows them that Gates cares about their opinions and wants their advice in running the business. Being a programmer himself also enables him to interact with employees on a common ground. He isnt just another MBA or manager, hes

one of them. This makes him a border-line craftsmen in terms of leadership, however he did a good job over the years in becoming interested and on top of other aspects of the business. It was this ability to handle both the business and technical sides of the company that made Microsoft so successful. Being a transformational leader also makes him charismatic yet humble. He is hard working and motivates people. After all, he did get Steve Ballmer to drop out of Stanford to come and work with Microsoft. Successful ventures are defended heartily keeping employees inspired to do more. He also gives credit to competition when they have a great product. In the video, Bill Gates Praising Apple Computers, Gates praises Apple for their standard setting products. He really cares about the evolution of technology and not just his own personal development. What is Steve Ballmers leadership style? Steve Ballmers leadership style is much less defined. He is not very big on radical change and does not seem to have the same bold vision that Gates had. Im not quite sure what his greater goal is. They have already achieved Gates goal so now what is Ballmers? Ballmer once said the focus was no longer Windows or web developers, Not any more baby, it's advertising, advertising, advertising! (Microsofts Ballmer and his brother Bill Gates) Hes staying true to his business background but that isnt what Microsoft is all about. This does however open up a few doors for Microsoft. It is believed by Louis Carter, CEO of the Best Practice Institute, that one of Ballmers strengths is that he understands the industrys market. Ballmer allows for a huge pipeline of information around him, says Carter. He is willing to stand up and hear the feedback. And he closely monitors the needs of his audience - market demands, perceived competitors, customers and employees - to immediately change his position at any given moment. As Ballmer comes from the business side, he is more financially and task oriented. There is no technical confrontation with him as he is not a technical person and probably doesnt know how to interact with programmers or designers in the same way Gates did. In spite of this perceived downfall, he does believe that talent is crucial to reaching technical goals. According to Ballmer, Microsoft must maintain a corporate culture that nurtures and rewards innovation in order to tap the full potential of technologies... (Ballmer Foresees Growth in Information Management Technology) As will be discussed shortly, his focus does seem to be more on beating the competition and raising values and revenues. This seems to make him more transactional leader than transformational. However, charisma is a defining characteristic of Ballmer and he is able to inspire people. He even classifies himself as more bubbly than other leaders. Even so, his emotional and charismatic antics are not sufficient for a leadership role as suggested in the lecture. Perhaps these antics are more of a publicity stunt than feelings backed by values and a true belief in the company.

If that is the case, he may not be a leader in the full sense of the word. Maybe a gamesman would be a more accurate depiction? He seems to believe in something but will still do anything to win and can disguise moves with crazy behavior. Of course its impossible to determine ones true thought and beliefs so this is purely hypothetical speculation. At least he says he realizes that some adjustments need to be made regarding his leadership style. This shift to CEO has forced these changes, and also changes to his personality as described by some executives he works closely with. These changes have not subdued his blatant arrogance. In the video Microsoft CEO Ballmer laughs at Apple iPhone, he actually laughs at the idea of the iPhone and believes Microsofts strategy is clearly better. He almost seems confused and insulted when then interviewer asks him How do you compete with that? He does go on to mention that the iPod is in the lead for music but quickly goes on to say the Zune is gaining ground. I wonder how he feels about that interview now The same arrogance is displayed in regards to Google. In The CEO Must Steer the Corporate Culture, Says Steve Ballmer, Ballmer notes that Googles success is not a threat to Microsoft but that their business built on search technology is very good. He went on to say every thing else [it produces] is sort of cute. And he disagrees with Googles tactic of letting employees work on their own projects by saying pet projects aren't paying for me to come down to Stanford Business School. He can never compliment a competitive business without subsequently mentioning that Microsoft is better in his opinion. This could be in part due to his philosophy on partnerships. He wants to pass a stable vision of Microsoft onto its partners and customers to convince them that even with all of the hype surrounding Google and iPhones, Microsoft is still not only in the game, but a leader in the industry. I have learned about business partners that business partners are your partners because they make money with you, they succeed with you. And if you don't succeed, eventually you don't have any partners. (Steve Ballmer speaks passionately about Microsoft, Leadership and Passion) What effect did Gates have on Microsoft? James Collins, co-author of the book Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, said, To my mind, Microsoft has never been a company. It's a single remarkable individual, Gates, with thousands of the smartest, best-paid people anywhere helping that individual. It's basically like a big wheel, with Gates at the hub. (Leadership the Bill Gates Way) He was a very smart, hardworking, goal driven individual who had the ability to inspire people to follow him. That was his biggest contribution to the company as a leader. Once the vision was clear, the company could speak for itself. He reinvented and refocused it frequently, always with a great degree of confidence. Although he enjoyed beating the competition he typically did not cast an arrogant or vindictive vibe and praised competitors for products he felt were superior.

When asked about competition by Peter Jennings in an ABC interview, Gates said, Well, competition is always a fantastic thing, and the computer industry is intensely competitive. Whether it's Google or Apple or free software, we've got some fantastic competitors and it keeps us on our toes. Gates also had the greatest talents hand selected for him. He liked to work closely with his employees as much as he could and greatly considered their feedback. A great deal of effort was put into retaining these employees that Gates considered invaluable to Microsofts success. The culture reflected the importance of these employees and Microsoft set a high standard for how technology companies should treat their employees. There was a big focus on career development and healthcare. Early on, all employees could email him directly with comments, suggestions, or complaints. He also created a campus that employees never had to leave. They were offered free drinks and health club memberships, laundry and grocery services, and even counseling. Bill Gates understood the value in paying well, giving great perks, and investing in his employees future. He has probably made more people wealthy than any other CEO alive. He also understands what it takes to motivate his employees so they were engaged and excited about their work. (7 Awesome Lessons from Bill Gates Love Him or Hate Him, He is a Genius) It also was a culture that nurtured employees in conjunction with the innovations and products they were working on. Gates put a great emphasis on innovation and believes, In fact, the way software works -- so long as you are using your existing software -- you don't pay us anything at all. So we're only paid for breakthroughs. We have to make a new version of Windows or Office that you think is worth going out and buying. (One-on-One with Bill Gates) As a result, Gates tried to meet with every product team for a Bill Review. As described by Chris Caposela, a senior Vice President in the Business Division, Bill Reviews were famous for the intense barrage of questions Gates would fire at product teams. Those are sort of legendary for teams to get a big morale boost from how that product review went. [They] got a lot of mileage out of the feedback that he would provide. (Ballmer focusing on next big thing for Microsoft). This kept him in direct contact with all of the companys offerings, as well provided as a visible, involved, and enthusiastic leader to employees. What effect did Ballmer have on Microsoft? While Bill Gates liked to focus the majority of his time on technology and production, Steve Ballmer focuses more on the business aspects of the company. He reorganized the business into units and tried to expand on core products as a new strategy. Ballmer has also tried to make efforts to remedy customer and partner relationships. Its not clear if his business oriented approach to these problems is actually helping or not but its a step in the right direction. It is also not clear if he has the same overall vision and tenacity for technology as Gates. He says his focus is on the long-term and wants to work on markets until they are competitive. Rather than accomplishing this by focusing on maintaining loyal customers with useful and meaningful new product offerings and updates, he instead half-heartedly focuses on catching up to and beating the competition, no matter what the market might be.

For example, Microsoft originally had two main offerings operating systems and Office. They recently added the Web and Software as a Service to that list. So why bother with the Zune music player? Its an obvious reaction to the iPod/iPhone which Ballmer publicly scoffed at. This is nasty spin on the once positive embrace and extend mantra at Microsoft. Combined with Ballmers flagrant attitude, it leaves those loyal customers wondering why Microsoft has not released a decent product under his reign. And furthermore, why he isnt doing anything to improve the products he does have. As of late, Ballmer has realized some of his faults and actively tried to change his style. He has transformed himself and the business. As a person, he is more reserved in appearance and portrays his attitude as passionate and energetic. His entrance into seemingly random markets is now portrayed as a base for future growth. He is also working to save Microsofts reputation as a mature and trust worthy company. Internally, Ballmer is trying to make some changes for the better. He created Vision Version 2 which is supposed to energize employees and help them focus on customers. He wants to improve current service and support while still staying/becoming the industry leader. To help accomplish this he is giving more authority to employees and running with some of their ideas. This will streamline some of the recent bureaucracy so that research and development is not slowed. In some ways this might be a combination of his lack of technical expertise and his financial management skills. The new vision saves money and allows a Microsoft without Bill Gates micromanaging projects to succeed. Still a lingering concern for many, Ballmer is pushing forcefully for expansion beyond Windows. Moving into these areas may be the riskiest part of Microsoft's strat egy under Ballmer. It involves a tricky balancing act that pits Microsoft's growth aspirations against its pledge to be a better partner and leader in the industry. (Microsoft CEO wants company to broaden its reach, burnish its reputation) Part of the maturation plan will have to be learning to play nicely with these competitors and partners. The other part of the plan will be getting the employees and customers on board. Ballmer says When you are not the first guy in the market, you have two choices: Get in or don't get in. ... Are you a company that is afraid to get into something where there is a clear market leader? We put our hands up and said, 'No, we're not going to be afraid of that.' (Steve Ballmer speaks passionately about Microsoft, Leadership and Passion) If Ballmer can get these two key parts nailed down he will have a really great chance to do something big with the company.

7 Key Lessons from a Greatest Leader of all times - Bill Gates


June 27, 2008

28th June, 2008 saw the end of an era in Business, Technology and Greatness. Founder of Microsoft, William Henry Gates III, presently the 3 rd richest person in the world, decided to hang his boots and start living a life with bigger purpose. My idol for a long time, Bill Gates has been a name to reckon with at every single home, at every single corporation. His career spanning over 33 long years provided a great sense of achievement for himself and the rest of the computer industry. He quoted If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25 cars that got 1000 MPG. This is the kind of influence he had after founding Microsoft Corporation the big giant in the IT industry. I want to write here some of the great learnings of mine from this genius.

Success comes with a Great Vision


Every business and household must have a computer and must run Microsoft software , was the basic guiding vision of Bill Gates. When everyone in the world were not even aware of the software industrys future here was a man who trusted on his gut feel and passion decided to take the vision the farthest possible way. He was almost there achieving his vision. This clear vision of him won him several laurels and went to be the richest person in the world for 13 continuous long years. Do what you are Passionate about, the rest will Follow Praveen Sherman This is something that I learnt from Bill Gates even as an young lad. I grew up seeing the success

of Bill Gates and I was for a long time

under the impression that he

was just making lots of money by luck. But what Bill Gates proved was different. There is no one who could write software code as he could. When as a student at the Harvard university, every single student would have wanted to be part of the great institute and graduate to be successful, Bill Gates decided to stop studying and pursue his dream of writing softwares for every computer in the world. Just started the agreement between IBM and Microsoft, Gates along with friend Paul Allen was to write an interpreter for the IBM PC. He was not ready on the

date that was announced for the installation and the good news for Gates was that the party at the other end too were not ready. This got the fire in him to write that piece of software and bundle with every IBM computer in the world. He was just passionate about software, coding and technology that incidentally also made him the richest man in the world Intellectual property has the shelf life of a banana says Bill Gates that has made him a great innovator too. Focusing on taking the computer to every single house hold made him an household name too.

Failures are learning lessons:-Perseverance


Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning. - Bill Gates

Bill Gates was never afraid of losing and went on to win a lot of deals because of this. While the Microsoft windows operating system is the widely used in the world, there are a good number of criticisms and unhappiness about the software among the users. While many of them used to get bugged using Microsoft products, Bill Gates did not easily give up. He took all those as nice lesson and is improving every single day. When critics were talking about infringement of laws by Bill Gates, he struck on and was giving the best the employees and the users of Microsoft Software products. Its fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure. - Bill Gates

Higher the Self Esteem the better it gets


When you start achieving something big, there will be people who would want to make fun of your efforts, pull you down and so on. The stronger you stand the bolder you get the faster these negatives wither. When IBM pulled out of the contract for the operating system to be bundled with the IBM Clone PCs, Bill Gates stayed on and started focusing on the creating Windows amidst lots of hiccups that will hamper the company. Inventing the MS Access database system, was a relevant owing to the failure of the Omega Database with IBM. He saw an opportunity at every single place that helped him to achieve greatest heights. He did not allow others to deter him by inventing many thins to the public and still reaching his top most Goals and vision. Whether its Google or Apple or free software, weve got some fantastic competitors and it keeps us on our toes Bill Gates

Opportunity knocks once:


Bill Gates took up the responsibility of being the Chief Software Architect, Bill Gates was nurturing Microsoft by building a broad range of products. This was not just capitalize on the knowledge but provide the best by understanding the need of the people. He did not sit back and wait for people to ask what they wanted and instead made a revolution of creating an opportunity for himself and his company by innovating. He did not sit and do something that anyone could, but he took the reins into his hands to almost single handedly take Microsoft to this great heights. I believe that if you show people the problems and you show them the solutions they will be moved to act. Bill Gates

Action Speaks Louder

This is one never mentioned secret of success. Action is the key word. When logic never drives us its emotions. We must have that emotional strength in us to take action. Bill Gates as a small young boy never had anything to lose which he kept telling his good friend Paul Allen. When he had several odds again him such as the American Law and several cases against him, he still consistently took action by developing more software which the people wanted. This made him a super star overnight. If not for Bill Gates, Microsoft would have not seen the light today of what it gets. This was because of his constant delivery of ideas to his Goals and vision. He was a drop out from one of the worlds best universities the Harvard and not everyone from there went to achieve great heights like Bill Gates did, which proves the basic fact that education is just a tool for success and does not define success itself. During the convocation address at the Harvard university, Bill Gates mentioned that good he came when they were graduating and not when during the time when they joined the university else they would have changed their mind. We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don t let yourself be lulled into inaction. Bill Gates

Trust- An unwritten rule for great leadership wisdom


Right from day 1 at Microsoft, Bill Gates was very open to the ideas. This he also proved later when Steve Balmer stepped into the shoes of Bill Gates and became the CEO of the company. He always believed that there is no end to learning from people, from books and so on. I really

had a lot of dreams when I was a kid, and I think a great deal of that grew out of the fact that I had a chance to read a lot, says Bill Gates ready for more ideas to float around which will make sure that the same culture of innovation continues in Microsoft even without his presence. At Microsoft there are lots of brilliant ideas but the image is that they all come from the top - Im afraid thats not quite right. Bill Gates

Success must never get on to the head

This is by far the best lesson what we learn from Bill Gates. At a tender age of 21, Bill Gates had achieved many a things including having money and fame. This did not allow him to stop achieving and always had the drive to achieve great heights. If Id had some set idea of a finish line, dont you think I would have crossed it years ago? quote Bill Gates with utmost passion and determination. Microsoft is not about greed. Its about Innovation and Fairness. Bill Gates Never stop learning was the Mantra of Bill Gates which he follow till date. This empowers him to be a Great Leader of our times. He will always be remembers as an Icon and even without his presence in Microsoft he would still be regarded as a great inventor and a real genius in every regard of Business, Technology and Entrepreneurship.

Bill Gates: Entrepreneur, Manager, and Leader


9:02 AM Friday June 27, 2008 | Comments ( 22View)

Email Tweet This

Post to Facebook Share on LinkedIn Print


FEATURED PRODUCTS

Bill Gates and the Management of Microsoft by Philip Rosenzweig $6.95 Buy it now

The Productivity Paradox: How Sony Pictures Gets More Out of People by Demanding Less by Tony Schwartz $6.95 Buy it now

Today marks the last working day for Bill Gates at Microsoft. So much has been written and spoken about him that another column appears redundant. Some people may even feel a tinge of happiness that they no longer have to contend with the ruthless businessman that Gates has been portrayed as. The purpose of this post is to analyze what can be learned by young people from perhaps the most successful entrepreneur of our times. Focus: Bill Gates has demonstrated over nearly thirty years the importance of clarity of thought and execution. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he did not move away from the domain he understood better than anything else - software. He has pursued the objective of dominance in software in general and operating systems in particular that has few parallels. Venturing into unfamiliar territory may be fashionable but carries a high degree of risk. If ever a need arises for an absolute example for what Peters and Waterman called "Stick to the Knitting" and Hamel and Prahalad termed core competence, one needs to look no further than Bill Gates and Microsoft. Focus also means the ability to pursue one's goals whatever the obstacles may be. Such a degree of perseverance is hard to come by.

Thinking big: Along with focus, the ability to dream big and pursue that with singleminded determination sets Gates apart from other entrepreneurs. This is particularly true of entrepreneurs from emerging economies like India where an ultra-conservative attitude has stifled growth. Entrepreneurs need to develop confidence in themselves and their team that they can take on the world and come out winners. Passion: Simply put, if anything is worth doing, it is worth doing well. From a simple thank you note to a complex proposal, it is critical to place the stamp of excellence on whatever one undertakes. Equally important is the need to constantly innovate. Change is the only constant and the more agile and adaptive we are to change, the more successful we can be. Learning as a life-long process: Though dropping out of college to his dreams, Bill Gates has probably read and written more than most of us ever will. In the process, he has shown the limits of formal education. Important as formal education is, perhaps it is more important to realize that learning is a life-long process. Knowledge is infinite. Even if we keep assimilating it without a break throughout a lifetime, we would not have scratched the surface. Knowledge should lead to humility and wisdom - not arrogance and one-upmanship. Giving back to society: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has provided a new dimension to philanthropy by addressing issues that are global in nature - malaria, cancer, AIDS. Feeling good by doing good may appear old-fashioned but this may yet be the best way forward in combating diseases that kill or maim millions of people every year. With friend and legendary investor Warren Buffet also joining hands, a formidable combination has been forged. Bill Gates has shown a remarkable degree of consistency both in his business goals and in his goals in philanthropy - he is a global citizen. Although some Indian entrepreneurs have indeed espoused similar causes - Infosys Foundation, Azim Premji Foundation, and the House of Tata come to mind, a lot more can be done by successful Indian entrepreneurs. In fact, just 5% of the wealth of the 200 richest people can eradicate some of the most pressing problems that we face. Wealth should not be merely in terms of building the most flamboyant homes but in pursuing a higher calling. Where is the collective conscience of the rich who hav made it big due to the society that they are a part of? As with any successful or great person, there will always be controversies. In an age where the distinction between means and ends is increasingly blurred, taking extreme positions hardly helps. One may not agree with Gates' means for achieving what he has, but one would find it difficult to ignore his contributions to the IT industry. However, history and posterity will probably recognize him more for what he has decided to do - at a relatively young age - for the rest of his life. Combating hunger, fighting disease and educating the poor are truly lofty goals worth emulating by anyone who cares for humanity and for the quality of life on this planet. On this count, there cannot be many role models better than Bill Gates. The last thirty years have seen the emergence of an entrepreneur par excellence. The next thirty years will probably see the emergence of

the greatest individual philanthropist - not necessarily in monetary terms - but in terms of the global issues addressed with dedication. Since this is a discussion forum, two questions to readers: How do you get the next Bill Gates, or better, without inviting the kind of controversy that his success has spawned? Why can't governments spend 1% less on defense and use the money to improve living conditions for the poorest of the poor?