Leadership the Bill Gates Way

 
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Case Details:

Case Code : LDEN014
Case Length : 14 Pages
Period : 1968-2003
Pub Date : 2003
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : Microsoft
Industry : Software
Countries : USA

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.



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"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."

- Des DearLove1 in his book, Business The Bill Gates Way.

Introduction

In 1993, William Henry Gates III, popularly known as Bill Gates (Gates), was conferred the 'Price Waterhouse Leadership Award for Lifetime Achievement' by the Computerworld Smithsonian Honors Program (CSHP).2 This award was presented to Gates for his remarkable contribution to the Information Technology (IT) revolution, for the distinctiveness of its conception, for the wide reach of its vision, and the benefits it brought to the society. In 1996, Gates was named the 'Technology Leader of the Year'3 by the editors of Industry Week for his corporate guidance and for his unique ability to make his company - Microsoft Corporation (Microsoft)4 - adapt quickly to changes in the industry. 

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With a market capitalization of US$ 260 billion on May 23, 2003, Microsoft had emerged as the global computer software leader and the world's most valuable company. Gates, the erstwhile CEO5 of Microsoft, was also the world's wealthiest individual. Microsoft dominated the global PC software market.

According to analysts, Gates had played a pivotal role in Microsoft's success. He had made major contributions to strengthen the product development, human resources and marketing efforts of the company. 

Appreciating Gates leadership, 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."6

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1]  Des DearLove writes frequently for the Times, the American Management Review, and Human Resources. He is also the author of The Ultimate Book of Business Thinking.

2]  Established in 1990, the CSHP presents annual leadership awards to recognize the extraordinary achievements of people who have made a major contribution to the IT industry.

3]  Introduced in 1993, the annual Technology and Innovation Leader awards were given by IndustryWeek to those people whose endeavors enabled the transformation of science and technology into commercially useful products and services. The award recognized outstanding achievements in technology and innovation.

4]  Microsoft is a global leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. As on July 01, 2002, the company employed more than 50,000 employees in 78 countries across the world. Microsoft reported revenues of US$28.37 billion for the financial year ending June 2002.

5]  Gates stepped down as the CEO of Microsoft in January 2000 and appointed Steve Ballmer in his place. However, Gates continued to be the Chairman of the company and assumed a new role as the Chief Software Architect of Microsoft.

6]  In "Bill Gates' Executive Style Inspires a Cult Following," by David Streitfeld in the Washington Post, dated May 1, 2000.

 

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