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Two outstanding leaders from two totally different fields

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The first leader that we will introduce to you is an exceptional leader in the business field. His name is Bill Gates.Being named the richest man in the world for the past decade by Forbes magazine, it was clear that Bill Gates must be an outstanding business leader taking his company Microsoft from a small firm that was founded in 1975 to a global company that is worth many hundreds of billions of dollars today.
 
 

Environmental influence and skill development

The environment that Bill Gates founded his company in, was a cut throat environment. Since the competition was really tough he did not have a lot of time thinking about things decisions had to be made and projects had to be developed. Bill Gates took great risks in order to make his company successful. What he always had was a vision that he was following.

What Bill Gates has always encouraged is that all his employees give their best at any time, when they do that and if they successful he rewards them greatly. Since becoming the CEO of Microsoft he always knew that the environment was very competitive, he had to be very though. He needed to have all of the leadership roles that have been described by Mintzberg. During the first years of building his empire Bill Gates became a figurehead for the company. He always wanted to get involved in everything that was going on in the company, nowadays he still makes his presence felt. Many times he has displayed the figurehead role, by always making himself available at any time for important meetings with customers and suppliers. It was well known that he took only four to five days off a year within the first ten years of founding Microsoft to spend with his family while the rest of the time he spend representing Microsoft everywhere he could and developing new softwares, therefore he also served as the official representative of the company outside the organisation.

By becoming the a figurehead he also became the spokesperson. He basically became the face of Microsoft, when people think of Microsoft only one name pops in their head and that is Bill Gates. He became involved in every single aspect of the company meaning that he was looking over production, distribution, marketing and financial matters. The next role he took was the role as a negotiator. When IMB approached Microsoft to design a software for their personal home computer Bill insisted that IMB only operates with Microsoft software, after long negotiations IMB agreed to Microsoft’s demands, and since then they only store Microsoft software on their personal computers. What he also negotiated was the fact that he was allowed to distribute the Windows software on other computer manufactures.

One thing Bill Gates has encouraged a lot is, building and working in teams. He always focused on selecting and developing new talent encouraging them to communicate and work in team. He also makes sure that every member of the team feels important they all have the “responsibility to work together to optimise the profitability of the firm” (Gottschalk, 2006). One role that many people recognise Bill Gates as is entrepreneur. “The leader identifies the users' needs and develops solutions that change business situations. A major responsibility of the leader is to ensure that rapidly evolving technical opportunities are understood, planned, implemented, and strategically exploited in the organisation.”(Gottschalk, 2006). Since he was working in an environment that changes constantly he became aware of the environment surrounding him. “They credited much of this success to Gates ability to capitalize early and effectively on industry trends and his willingness to take risks on such fledgling technologies as Microsoft's CD-ROM-based software packages, which became industry standards.” (http://www.microsoft.com/presspass /exec/billg/bio .mspx).

 In order for Microsoft to be successful Bill knew that he had to develop a strategy and plan every move that he intended to do. “Strategic planner role enables the manager to practise strategic leadership”. (Dubrin & Daglish & Miller, 2006, p.12). One of the business journals in the USA has described Bill Gates “as one of the handful of people who had the greatest influence on the business strategy over the last century.” (Mirick , 1996) He always knew where he wants his organisation needs to go so he always made sure that all the people within the organisation knew in what direction it is going.

One of the most important roles as an strategic planner is to help the firm deal with the external environment. Competition was not the only problem that Microsoft had to face, they also had major problems from the US government because of that Bill Gates always made sure that the employees knew what is going on with the firm by making sure everyone is informed.

 

Components of leadership

Many studies indicate that every leader has certain personality traits. “These characteristics contribute to leadership effectiveness in many situations as long as the leaders style fit’s the situations reasonably well”. (Dubrin & Daglish & Miller, 2006, p.28). There are two groups of traits that will help analyse Bill Gates leadership skills. The first group is the general personality traits. In order to lead such an large organisation it is clear that Bill Gates is very confident. He presents his ideas and views not only to the board but also to the shareholders, he knows how to review performance of the firm and through that he knows where appropriate action needs to be taken. He doesn’t mind standing up for what he believes in.

 As most of his employees have seen when he was taken to court by the US government when they wanted to split Microsoft into four smaller companies, he hated the idea and took a stand against it. This proves furthermore that he is confident and doesn’t mind fighting for his rights. Because he presents his ideas to the shareholders directly he has won their trust. They are very confident with what and where he is taking the company because they know that he has founded the company and has been there for such a long time, he has also proven many times that he deserves to be there where he is now. Not only is he being trusted by, but also he gives nowadays many important task to its employees because he finds it very important that not only they trust him but also that he can count on them.

One of Bill’s other personality traits is that he is straight forward. He tells his employees what he wants to be done, when and how. Some observes say that he is very demanding and expects people to perform at their best at any time. Because he worked very hard to build up such a successful company he expects his managers and CEO’s to work also very hard. One thing he does not tolerate is under performance. Being known as a workaholic he has no problems firing people if he doesn’t think that they are contributing as much as they should. A prime example is that he fired Microsoft’s first company president after only 11 months. Another trait of his is that he is stable. He has no problems bringing out his emotions when they are needed. When he was interviewed by the US government for 30 hours he had no problems showing his emotions but what no one expected was, that he was fairly calm answering all the questions truthfully, this proves that he is very stable and consistent. Others maybe would have cracked under such intense pressure and displayed anger, anxiety and worry which would make them emotional unstable.

Enthusiasm is another trait that was found in Bill Gates personality. He likes to be enthusiastic because this helps him build good relationships with the teams at Microsoft. The second group are the task related personality traits. Working 16 hour days and taking 5 days off a year showed that Bill Gates had the passion for his work. He rewarded people that worked just as hard as he did very well and also always praised them which would make him also very passionate towards the people within the organisation. Emotional intelligence also counts as one of his personality traits even when things go wrong Bill never displays signs of anger, when he has something to say he will do that in a very calm voice. He doesn’t believe in raising his voice because if things are worth saying and people are listening they will do that anyway with or without him screaming. Flexibility is also something Bill Gates has been known for. He adjusts to demands and to different situations. When developing a new project he knows that if this succeeds it is not where he has to stop, but he knows that he has to develop it more in order to stay on top.

What today is new might not be tomorrow and because technology is changing to rapidly he knows that he must develop new ideas and projects constantly. As mentioned before in order to develop and lead such a huge organisation Bill Gates has had the courage to take risks and face challenges in order to get there where he is today. These challenges came through they cut throat environment, competition and rules and regulations. When great projects are developed by others in the company Bill doesn’t mind rewarding them greatly. One of the best examples was when Steven Ballmer became the new CEO of Microsoft, after the financial year was over and everybody saw that he has done a very good job, Bill Gates rewarded him greatly by giving him eight percent of the Microsoft stock which made him instantly a multi millionaire.

 

Strengths and weaknesses of Bill Gates leadership

The strengths of Bill Gates leadership have been widely discussed by observers. His vision was that every employee engages with his heart and mind to Microsoft and that it can only succeed if everyone works as a team works. He has always said that has good intentions for Microsoft and this has was proven many times. Bill Gates is very committed to the company and he constantly wants his managers to train and develop their employees skills so that they are up to scratch. He also constantly views performance and makes changes where needed. He also makes sure that every team member is important and also that everyone is working together to increase performance and profitability.

Even though Microsoft is the number one company in the world he constantly challenges his employees to reach new heights because he knows that the competition will only increase. In the industry he is also known for being very demanding and strong willed, also he does not like it when all of his executives agree with every single idea that he has, he likes people who can show him that there is a better way to a solution. What he expects is for people to think and show him how it can be done. What he has archived in this kinda environment is that he is respected by his employees and allies but feared by his competition.

He is appreciated by many for his visionary leadership. Just as he has shown some great leadership during all these years, he has also shown some not so great leadership skills that people have noticed. Many say that Bill Gates crushes the competition not only by getting an competitive advantage but also by totally ruin them so that they don’t oppose anymore as threads. His leadership skills were questioned many times and were found to be aggressive and very confrontational. He is also well known to be very tough as already mentioned above he fired the first president after only 11 months because he felt that he didn’t perform as good as he should have. In the late 90’s Bill Gates was accused of unfair business practises by the US government, Microsoft became just to powerful and it’s programs were installed on 95% of all the computers. So after they went to court the judge demanded that Microsoft should split into four smaller companies so that it enables other companies to succeed, this however was overruled by a federal judge leaving Microsoft as it is.

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