- ‘Gay Jeans’ that fade into rainbow-colored denim created
- Divided court strikes down big porn award
- Jimmy Carter: Don’t hurt Russian people with sanctions
- Oldest ex-MLB player dies in Cuba, 2 days shy of 103rd birthday
- ‘Top Gun’ for drones: Squadrons of carrier-based killers have Navy’s approval
- Bill Clinton to endorse Charlie Rangel for re-election
- Pfc. Bradley Manning is now Pfc. Chelsea Manning: Court says so
- Secret base U.S. special forces used to train Libyans now under terrorist control: report
- 9th suspect in N.C. kidnapping turns self in to FBI
- L.A. sheriff admits to testing flyover spy program without notifying residents
New Microsoft CEO’s collegial style sparks hope
LOS ANGELES (AP) - It was a fleeting moment once the camera had gone off, but some say it’s indicative of the leadership style Satya Nadella brings to his new job as CEO of Microsoft Corp.
Nadella’s impromptu town hall webcast had interrupted business meetings between Microsoft employees and outside partners at the company’s Executive Briefing Center in Redmond, Wash. Hours earlier, he had been named only the third leader in company history. When the brief webcast was over, he didn’t want to hog the limelight.
“If you have to get back to (a meeting) because it’s more interesting or important, please…,” Nadella said as the town hall transitioned into a light reception.
The gesture is just one example of Nadella’s calming, collegial style, which stands in stark contrast to the blustery, passionate, rally-the-troops approach employed by Microsoft’s previous CEO, Steve Ballmer.
Experts on leadership say the change in tone is a necessary cultural shift for a mature company transitioning into new businesses while letting go of past successes and missed opportunities.
“It’s very symbolic,” says Suresh Kotha, a professor at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business in Seattle. “I think that sends a very strong message, that work is important.”
Ballmer is known for his larger-than-life displays of emotion. At his farewell address to Microsoft employees in September, he high-fived and hugged audience members, pumped his fists in the air, and even shed tears as the popular 1987 song “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” played on the sound system. In a video of the event widely viewed on YouTube, he screams: “You work for the greatest company in the world!”
Observers still remember Ballmer’s intense competitiveness. At a 2009 company meeting at Seattle’s Safeco field, he pretended to stomp on an iPhone he snatched from a Microsoft employee. During a public Q&A; in 2012, he slammed Google’s Android mobile operating system as “wild” and “uncontrolled.”
Compare that to Nadella’s comments at a financial analysts meeting in September, where he described how Microsoft’s mobile device management software has to handle devices that run on Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows equally: “Enterprises are heterogeneous, and we recognized that,” he said.
Richard Metheny, a management coach for executive search firm Witt/Kieffer, latched onto comments Nadella made in introducing himself as CEO, about how he buys more books and signs up for more online courses than he could possibly finish.
“It means he’s open to ideas, open to others,” Metheny says. “Perhaps he’ll have the ability to get Microsoft to loosen up a little and focus on innovation rather than be accused of bringing in a solution that brings in money immediately.”
One problem Microsoft faces is its legacy of competing internal fiefdoms, says Douglas McKenna, a management consultant who advised Microsoft from 1985 to 1993 and worked at the company from 1993 through 2001.
Founder Bill Gates and Ballmer believed the clash of ideas resulted in the best rising above the rest, McKenna says. That style of management, coupled with a so-called stack ranking system that graded employees on a bell curve, resulted in a company full of “competitive people who learned that climbing over each other and battling across divisions is the way to get ahead,” McKenna says.
Breaking down those barriers will be important for Microsoft at a time when software and services are expected to work across many platforms and devices, McKenna says. It’s a task that could benefit from Nadella’s collaborative approach.
TWT Video Picks
By Andrew P. Napolitano
Obama's veil of secrecy is pierced
- Pentagon plans to replace flight crews with 'full-time' robots
- 'Top Gun' for drones: Squadrons of carrier-based killers have Navy's approval
- CARSON: When government looks more like foe than friend
- Kansas will nullify local regulation of guns
- Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy hailed as patriot, ripped as lawless deadbeat
- America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds
- Washington Redskins' 2014 schedule opens with Texans
- Texas is next! AG warns BLM wants 90,000 acres after Bundy ranch standoff
- Opposition rising to Colorado gun control laws
- Harry Reid using tax dollars to fight Koch brothers, La. GOP chair charges
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Celebrity deaths in 2014