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Leadership Analysis Of Bill Gates

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Born in a well-established family in Seattle, Washington, William Bill Henry gates who is famously known as Bill Gates wrote his first program at the age of 13. He was a keen reader and used to read business magazines at a very young age. He became friends with Paul Allen who was a senior in school and joined him in writing programs. Together, they built a program which monitored traffic in Seattle and then later went on to build a software program to run the Altair 8800 computer for the company named Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS). Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard and joined Paul Allen in creating the company named Microsoft. They purchased an operating system from a small company and then had it made as their own naming it as MS-DOS which was licensed to IBM. Throughout their years, they had a vision of how software would be the future of computers although many people did not believe and debated it. They stuck to their vision and it led them to evolve from the MS-DOS operating system to the formation of Microsoft Windows GUI operating system. The debate finally ended with the creation of their windows GUI software which is used as an operating system on most of the computers and software playing a major role in today’s market. The company continues to evolve and develop their products.

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Leadership Analysis

The company’s success has been attributed to the leadership of Bill Gates who has always maintained a vision of the massive opportunities with software. He maintains a view to pursue and be patient with ideas which was evident from Microsoft’s success with the full potentials of software being realized only with the GUI operating system being launched. He emphasized on hard work and had been an exemplary example of it. To a major part of his career with Microsoft, he spent most of his time working on developing the products and had hardly taken a vacation. Even during vacations, he was busy thinking of new ways on how the company and products could be improved. Bill enjoyed his work which resulted in him working long hours for the company. His love for computers and developing software made him spend most of his time at work rather than enjoying the other aspects of life. He believed in continuous change and has always driven the company to evolve and develop their products. With competition being very high, the only way that Microsoft could sustain their competitive advantage is to continue to develop their products. He has also given importance to hiring the best people for the job. This was obvious from the fact when he chose to hire Hanson to look after their marketing functions. Although, Hanson had no experience with computers, his experience on marketing other products had helped him to market Microsoft’s products successfully. The recruitment process into Microsoft would also suggest that they were not looking for just people who had the knowledge but for the people who had the drive, initiative, commitment and dedication in solving a problem. On the other hand, Bill Gates has been termed as an autocratic leader since he was only focusing on the company’s goals and not on the welfare of his followers. There was a monopolistic approach followed by him with the decision-making process solely vested with him. The ideas put forth to him by the employees were ridiculed many times and his opinion needed to be challenged by his employees for it to be considered by him. However, towards the latter part of his career, he seemed to be lesser aggressive on his employees. Bill Gates retired as CEO in 2000 from Microsoft and pursued his career as a philanthropist by creating the company named Bill and Melinda Gates foundation which is the biggest private foundation for philanthropy.

Traits Approach Analysis

Intelligence One of the traits to possess for a good leader is to be intelligent. “Having strong verbal ability, perceptual ability, and reasoning appears to make one a better leader”. The major attribute for Bill Gate’s success is being intelligent in carrying out his business. In the 1980’s, when IBM approached him to develop their operating system for the PC, he did not have the operating system. Hence, he purchased the software from a small company and had it adapted for the PC which was later sold to IBM as MS-DOS. This was the start of an evolution for Microsoft. Although some of the tactics employed by him have been criticized, yet Microsoft evolved to be one of the most successful companies while many other companies failed in the process.

Self Confidence “Self-confidence is the ability to be certain about one’s competencies and skills”. In the initial days of the company’s formation, Paul and Bill approached the company claiming that they had been developing a program for the Altair 8800 which was yet not available. They eventually managed to create this program successfully which was later sold to MITS. This shows the confidence and beliefs they had in being able to develop the program. Throughout his career with Microsoft, Bill was confident of the company’s vision and took on a monopolistic approach in decision making which shows the confidence instilled in himself.

Determination “Determination is the desire to get the job done and includes characteristics such as initiative, persistence, dominance, and drive”. He had a strong belief in software and the opportunities it offered. By licensing the MS-DOS operating system to IBM instead of selling it, he had acquired his dominance over the market. He stuck to this belief and continued his work with software by working very hard which led to the creation of the windows operating system with the graphical user interface in 1995. This emerged to make the company very successful.

Integrity “Integrity is the quality of honesty and trustworthiness”. Bill Gates was working with Apple on the development of their operating system when he noticed the graphical user interface and the various benefits of it. He started working on incorporating this graphical user interface for windows which led the company to be very successful. He wasn’t very ethical in some of his practices and was more inclined only towards making his company successful. Some of the tactics used by him are still being criticized.

Sociability “Leaders who show sociability are friendly, outgoing, courteous, tactful, and diplomatic”. Bill Gates couldn’t be attributed as a friendly & an outgoing person since he spent most of his time working. He was not very courteous as well and was termed as a person who got angry at many times. He used his legitimate, coercive & reward power on employees. However, he was very tactful and diplomatic in his approaches which led to the company being successful.

Transformational Leadership Approach Analysis

Bill Gates has been viewed as a transformational leader although some argue the fact that he was more of a transactional leader.

Characteristics The personal characteristics suggested for a transformational leader are being dominant, having a desire to influence, having self-confidence and strong moral values. Although Bill Gates could be viewed as a person who had strong personal characteristics for a transformational leader by being dominant and bringing a great amount of self confidence in his leadership style of Microsoft, his desire to influence his followers and drive strong moral values remain questionable. He was confident of his vision wherein the software opportunities would be abundant in future and was a dominant force in Microsoft with the decision-making authority. However, the desire to influence followers seem to be lacking with followers unable to make decisions and seemed to be more following instructions. The decisions taken by him by using a few devious practices to gain competitive advantage doesn’t quite attribute to strong moral values as well. He persuaded the computer manufacturers to have his product installed on all computers. Although, this can be viewed as an effective strategy, it does question his leadership character of having strong moral values.

Leadership Factors The transformational leadership factors comprise of having a charisma which relates to being strong role models. Based on the success of Microsoft, he could be considered as having a charisma for leadership, however this factor also emulates high standards of moral and ethical conduct which cannot be attributed to him. However, when it comes to the vision of the company, Bill can be considered as having an idealized influence. He emphasized on hard work, drive and dedication to his followers to achieve the vision of the company however, his measures of management could not always inspire motivation to all the employees. He was focused only on the company’s goals and not on the success of any individual. By being very unpleasant and critical of ideas that were put forth to him, it does not help to inspire motivation among his followers. Bill can be associated with Intellectual Stimulation to his followers as he had always emphasized on his employees being creative and innovative in order to prosper in the market. If a person was able to stick by their ideas and challenge him by proving the validity of their ideas, Bill tended to listen to them. The company also always focused on recruiting people who could solve problems. The factor of Individualized Consideration could not have been much attributed to Bill Gates because he did not provide a supportive climate to the followers, but instead was more critical of them.

Conclusion

Bill Gates through his management style has demonstrated that he is an autocratic leader who is more focused on the company’s goals. This is evident from the fact that he and his employees were always working hard to ensure that the company achieved its goals and had no emphasis on focusing on building relationships apart from work. He was driven by the constant need for change in order to survive competition and stay ahead of the game. Many people attribute his success in leadership due to market timing and using devious tactics to gain competitive advantage. Some claim that he might not have been that successful if he was in a different industry or time while others claim that he was never the innovator and used to copy the products of other companies. However, he has been a successful leader for quite a long period of time and many people still look up to him as a great leader. His success as a leader can be attributed to the fact that he was a great visionary, had great focus and determination, was opportunistic and constantly adapting to change. He had a great business mindset which helped him to use effective strategies in order to succeed. To conclude, it can be said that he was very effective as a managerial leader.

10 October 2020

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