William Henry Gates, who is better known simply as Bill Gates, is one of the most well-known leaders today. Having co-founded the software corporation of Microsoft and served as its leader for a long period (USA Today, 2007), he led the enterprise to succeed in the global software market. In fact, over long years, Microsoft had been the monopolist in the computer software market, and it remains the largest software company in the world (Cohan, 2015). Therefore, it is paramount to discuss the style of Bill Gates’ leadership, as well as to consider its possible adverse aspects and issues which might hinder the progress of an organization.
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Leadership Style of Bill Gates, its Key Issues and Underlying Issues
It is stated that Bill Gates is one of the most successful leaders, or perhaps even the most successful leader nowadays (Cohan, 2015). It was, to a considerable degree, his efforts that led the corporation of Microsoft to its global success. Bill Gates himself was able to make a great profit thanks to this business and became one of the wealthiest persons on the planet (Cohan, 2015). Due to this major and long-lasting success, it might be possible to state that his leadership style proved to be most effective, and it may be likely that there are no crucial flaws in it. The style of Bill Gates includes such dimensions as focus and clarity of thought, the ability to “think big,” passion, life-long learning, and giving back to society, in particular via charity organizations (Krishnamurthy, 2008).
As for the leadership style of Bill Gates, it is stated that he was able to make successful business models (Microsoft monopolized the operating system market and stimulated hardware producers to collaborate with it), and think in the long term; also, he was always willing to analyze and doubt his ideas (Cohan, 2015). What is crucial is that Gates was able to hire and motivate talented and competent individuals to work for the company (Cohan, 2015). He employed the model of transformational leadership, which allowed Microsoft to adapt to several attacks from outside (SANS Institute, 2016).
Critics speak of several issues that are characteristic of the Gates’ leadership style. However, the key problem that played an important role in Microsoft is that intellectual criticism in many cases tended to turn into personal attacks (Cohan, 2015). This problem tended to significantly lower the motivation of the enterprise’s workers, as well as to drive away talented employees (Cohan, 2015). This problem grew out of the practice that was common in Microsoft – to challenge the ideas of one another, doubt them, and put them to the test (Cohan, 2015).
The Facts That Affect These Issues
One of the main facts which affected the useful habit of doubting and challenging various ideas was the culture of aggressiveness, which was rather strong in Microsoft (Cohan, 2015). In this company, employees were encouraged to challenge the ideas of one another, which proved rather effective when it came to developing new software. However, this challenging often turned into personal aggression directed not only at ideas but also at people (Cohan, 2015). Therefore, under the influence of the organizational culture, the effective and useful practice turned into a detrimental habit which hampered the further progress of the company.
Tentative Solution to the Problem and its Implementation
The habit of practicing personal aggression towards one’s co-workers or subordinates poses a significant problem, for it decreases the levels of motivation of workers and might even cause them to leave their workplace permanently. Thus, leaders should discourage such behaviors, instead of focusing on collaboration (Hughes, Ginnet, & Curphy, 2012). It is stated that “leadership must be based on goodwill… It means an obvious and wholehearted commitment to helping followers” (“Quotes on Leadership,” n.d., para. 14). Leaders should also set standards of behavior for other employees (“Human Relations,” n.d.). Therefore, the criticism of ideas should be common, but it should not become personal. To achieve this, it is paramount to encourage people to think over ideas and criticize them, while at the same time promoting mutual respect and collaboration (Kurucz, Colbert, & Wheeler, 2013).
Follow-Up and Contingency Plans
To make the respect and collaboration the mutual traits of the employees of a business, it is critical to make these characteristics of behavior a part of the organizational culture of that company (Hughes et al., 2012). Therefore, the leaders of the organization should initiate this change; the managers should be instructed to behave accordingly. In case this method does not yield outcomes, the leaders and managers should continue stimulating employees to criticize ideas, stressing that if such criticism allowed for improving these ideas, the critics should be considered contributors as well; but the leaders need to directly discourage personal attacks (Cohan, 2015). The followers should be taught to view one another as business partners (Day, 2014).
Therefore, Bill Gates’ being the leader of Microsoft allowed the business to grow and become the largest software company in the world. The leadership style of Bill Gates might be labeled transformational (SANS Institute, 2016). His leadership, however, had several negative aspects; one of the most important ones is that the criticism of ideas tends to grow into personal criticism, decreasing employee motivation, and driving away talented workers. To address this, it is crucial to use managers to encourage the criticism of ideas without the criticism of people, promoting the view that employees should view each other as business partners and treat them with mutual respect. This should also become part of the organizational culture.
Cohan, P. (2015). 8 leadership insights from Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. Web.
Day, D. V. (2014). The Oxford handbook of leadership and organizations. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Hughes, R., Ginnet, R., & Curphy, G. (2012). Leadership: Enhancing the lessons of experience (7th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.
Human relations. (n.d.). Web.
Krishnamurthy, B. V. (2008). Bill Gates: Entrepreneur, manager, and leader. Web.
Kurucz, E. C., Colbert, B. A., & Wheeler, D. (2013). Reconstructing value: leadership skills for a sustainable world. Toronto, Ontario: University of Toronto Press.
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Quotes on leadership. (n.d.). Web.
SANS Institute. (2016). Bill Gates and trustworthy computing: A case study in transformational leadership. Web.
USA Today. (2007). Business leaders. Web.