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Bill Gates is one of the most successful leaders in the business world. Due to his effective leadership and powerful impact on the society, he earned various awards, including Bower Award for Business Leadership. Gates passion for business and exceptional leadership made him successful in the software industry. He joined Harvard University but left in 1975 in order to implement his ideas of developing software for personal computers. Gates founded his company, Microsoft, which is one of the most renowned brands worldwide. Microsoft is the leading provider of software for computers globally. Gates’ vision regarding computing played a central role in the success of Microsoft and software industry. He focused on software to popularize personal computers and build Microsoft in compliance with this vision. Gates’ inimitable attributes helped him develop effective leadership. As an innovator, philanthropist, charismatic and transformational leader, Gates is one of the most successful people in the world.
Bill Gates’ Leadership Attributes
Bill Gates spent most of his time developing programming and coding in his garage while he was growing in order to create a solution that would be within the global reach. Due to his passion for developing computer software, Bill Gates revolutionized the world of computerizations introducing Microsoft Windows, which is one of the most successful operating systems today. Gates believed in his intelligence and hard work to achieve his goal. Even after introducing a billion-dollar idea, Bill Gates spent most of his time in his company to understand the target audience and develop a product that will meet their needs. Gates valued customer feedback, a vital form of legitimization for a business that intends to thrive in a competitive and constantly changing industry (Lussier & Achua, 2015). Gates had a great interest in the customer feedback and incorporated it in the Microsoft products and services. Bill understood that he must continually improve his brand to maintain the leadership position of his company. Since he founded Microsoft, Gates insisted on innovation and creativity to cater for customers’ changing behavior by developing products that meet their preferences (Wren, 2013). Through innovation and creativity, Gates diversified Microsoft product line and developed new products making his company the most successful in the world.
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Gates demonstrates visionary leadership by recognizing opportunities to grow. He developed an interest in computers during his childhood and pursued his goals with single-minded determination. Throughout his life, Gates has continuously improved his knowledge by learning new things (Wren, 2013). Moreover, due to his learning from mistakes, Gates became a great leader. Gates never allows failures to stop him from achieving his dreams. Gates faces many challenges in his entrepreneurship journey but they did not prevent him from pursuing his goal. What distinguishes Gates from other leaders is his ability to rebound from mistakes and take lessons from his failures. Gates had determination to achieve this vision. He left a legacy as a great leader when he retired from Microsoft in 2008.
Bill Gates is one of the most generous persons in the world. Together with his wife, Gates founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to combat fatal diseases in the developing countries by funding global health programs (Wren, 2013). Through his charity organization, Gates continues to address global challenges. His’ efforts to care for others show that he is a leader who works to help people grow rather than for personal goals. Gates has put aside his interest to improve the world and continues to inspire others to donate. This is an essential attribute that a leader who wants to be successful should embody. In his company, Gates displayed his ability to empathize and understand employees and empowered them to reach their full potential. Through his charity work, Bill has made a significant contribution to the world.
Gates is a visionary leader who demonstrates different leadership theories. When he first created Microsoft, Gates only knew how to ensure that his leadership behavior was not a barrier to his success. Gates was a transactional leader when he first created Microsoft. He rewarded employees with outstanding performance and punished poor achievements (Wren, 2013). He visited new product teams and asked them difficult questions to ensure that they understood the goal of the company and worked towards them. Later, Gates became a transformational leader by empowering employees and appealing their emotions through tactic, such as support and motivation. Gates adopted traits of a transformational leader and tried to appeal employing by supporting and motivating employees (Avolio, & Yammarino, 2013). He empowered and inspired his employees to implement his ideas.
Transformational leaders build trust in their leadership and achievement of their goals through personal example, firm moral conviction, and self-confidence. They have great insight, and their actions are consistent with their values and visions (Avolio, & Yammarino, 2013). Gates shared his vision with his followers. When Gates created Microsoft, personal computing hardly existed. Due to the development of computer software, Gates made a radical change that has revolutionized the computer world and led people into information era. He also made a significant change in the software industry by developing a wide range of Microsoft products that have enhanced people’s experience with computers. He promoted innovation in Microsoft products and inspired his subordinates to develop them into leaders as well as achieve the company’s goals. Gates committed himself to his goals and realized them through his values.
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Gates is a transformational leader who inspires changes in his followers. Transformational leadership is characterized according to four components. The first component is an idealized influence, which earned Gates employees’ respect, loyalty, and trust by applying charismatic behavior (Avolio, & Yammarino, 2013). Gates articulated the vision of his company to his employees and explained to them how to achieve his goal. He established the company’s rules and demonstrated an example by adhering to them. Gates appreciated employees’ contribution to the company’s goals. Due to his technological know-how, employees emulated his ideas and worked towards his goals.
The second component is inspirational motivation, which is evident in Gates leadership due to the fact that he communicated to his managers and employees his vision immediately after he had created Microsoft. He inspired his employees to achieve his goals by giving them inspirational quotes that helped them understand the future developments of computer software (Avolio, & Yammarino, 2013). In some of his quotes, Gates encouraged his followers and helped them understand that failure is part of success. He also encouraged them to become part of the organizational culture and try to fulfill their task in the best way, even if they lack the expertise needed to accomplish it successfully.
The third component is an individualized consideration, which involves treating each employee as an individual while considering their skills and abilities. Gates supported and encouraged individuals to reach their full potential. He supported each employee individually and avoided helping them as a team. He considered the skills, knowledge, and abilities of each employee to determine the tasks that best suit each person (Avolio, & Yammarino, 2013). By treating each worker as an individual, the employees felt valued and increased their commitment towards the company’s goal. Moreover, Gates interacted with employees by congratulating them to boost their self-confidence.
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The last component is an intellectual simulation, which involves encouraging employees to be creative. Gates inspired his employees to develop innovative Microsoft products to ensure that they meet the changing needs of the customers. Microsoft success would not have been possible without stimulating creativity. Gates created individual stimulation environment by empowering his employees and creating opportunities for them to explore new ways of performance (Wren, 2013). Gates applied some of the ideas generated by his employees to help the company grow.
Bill also demonstrates transformational leadership in Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates decided to focus on philanthropy and humanitarianism instead of maintaining his leadership role at Microsoft. He has changed the world of philanthropy through innovation (Avolio, & Yammarino, 2013). Moreover, he demonstrates a strong commitment to helping others by providing necessary resources to eradicate diseases and empowering others to improve their lives. Through his foundation, Gates continues to address global issues. Gates’ acts of addressing global challenges base on the principles of servant leadership, such as building society, stewardship, empathy, and healing others. Gates has dedicated his finances, energy and time to help the developing countries. Improving the lives of many people, Gates has become a global figure. Gates’ actions of seeking to unlock opportunities for the individuals show that his pursuit of finding proper solutions is more important than generating profits. Gates leadership strategy and execution of servant leadership inspires other people to contribute to the improvement of people’s lives in order to make the world a better place for everyone.
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Bill Gates also demonstrates charismatic leadership through his characteristics. He articulates an idealized vision and creates an environment for change through his innovative ideas and charity work. Charismatic leaders influence their followers to develop innovative products (Avolio, & Yammarino, 2013). He sought to make a substantial change in the world by ensuring that every office and home has a computer and he successfully moved Microsoft towards his vision. Guided by a belief that personal computers will be valuable tools, he devoted his energy to developing software.
Gates is one of the most admired and successful leaders in the world. He was known as a leader who recognized employees’ effectiveness, while he implemented the leadership role in Microsoft. Gates’ leadership style helped him foster an environment at Microsoft, in which they developed innovative products. His styles include dimensions of both participative and autocratic leadership.
Gates relied heavily on autocratic leadership style, which is effective in the fast-changing industry. Computer world evolve rapidly due to changes in people’s preferences and thus requiring quick decisions. Gates needed to make quick decisions in order to ensure that his company thrives in the face of the many challenges in the technological world. Consequently, autocratic leadership was an effective style. Much of the Microsoft’s success is attributed to Gates ability to make quick decisions. Gates’ autocratic leadership style helped him to respond to changes in the market by quickly reinventing the company (Wren, 2013). He paid close attention to recruitment and retention of employees in order to recognize the best talents. He searched many attributes in the recruits, such as experience in programming and capacity to grasp new knowledge quickly. Gates informed his followers that he was in charge and gave them little opportunity to make suggestions. Gates made decisions due to technology and innovation without involving his managers, which shows his autocratic leadership style. The controlling aspect of the autocratic leadership hindered employees’ ability to be creative and innovative (Lussier & Achua, 2015). By using autocratic leadership, Gates made decisions quickly, but this style deprived his subordinate of the opportunity to gain knowledge.
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As the company grew and the employees gained experience, Gates adopted participative leadership style. He recognized that his role in the company was to be a visionary leader and engage employees in working with him. Gates believed in the value of employees’ input in the success of the company. He empowered them to participate in the decision making process and leadership activities but retained final authority (Wren, 2013). Gates requested his employees to voice their ideas and report their findings. He held regular meetings with employees to create an opportunity for them to present their ideas and findings. Gates participated in “Think Week”, where he read employees reports on their issues and ideas regarding the future technology (Wren, 2013). He decentralized information gathering process, which prevented bureaucracy and made the company strong. Through these acts Gates gained employees’ trust because they felt that he appreciated them, respected their opinions and treated them as a part of the organization. Moreover, Gates was a programmer, a role that helped him to interact with his subordinates.
At the time Gates created Microsoft he made all decisions and was reluctant to use delegation. Further, Gates understood the importance of delegating the work. He formed a team of managers and assigned them different departments (Wren, 2013). He delegated most of his duties to the managers and trusted them to make decisions without instruction. Gates expected from his managers to influence employees and make decisions assuming they are the CEO of the company. The delegation of tasks helped Gates to develop a company that utilized employees’ skills and knowledge to the fullest.
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Power and Influence
One of the influence tactics Gates used while he was working at Microsoft is rational persuasion. He used factual evidence and logical arguments to convince his followers that his vision would bring a change in the software industry (Lussier & Achua, 2015). Gates has a vision of what his company needs to do to succeed. He made people implement his vision by guiding them on how to achieve his goals. Gates was a motivational leader and influenced employees by setting objectives as well as provided evidence to show that they could achieve them. He explained to the employees how to resolve and handle the problems. Another influence tactic used by Gates is explaining the benefits they would gain.
In addition, Gates had impact on others by acting as a role model and leading by example ensuring that people appreciate his changes globally. He built trust and worked collaboratively with his employees. He also influenced his followers by respecting their values and emphasizing their needs. Gates provided his influence based on virtuous actions and a body of actions that empowers his employees and entire population with his hope, ideas, and resources. He gave his followers powerful hope, due to which they believe that they will not surrender in case of challenges and setbacks. Gates persuaded people that they have the resources and ability to resolve problems and live free of oppression, poverty, and illnesses. Moreover, he influenced others by emphasizing possible solutions and sharing his thoughts.
Gates enjoyed the various forms of leadership power due to his position as the co-founder, CEO, and chairman of Microsoft. He exercised a legitimate power based on his position in Microsoft. As a leader, Gates used legitimate power to request employees to perform various tasks. They agreed to comply with his authority in return for benefits. Gates used reward power to influence employees by giving them substantial remuneration packages and bonuses to motivate them. One of the crucial parts of the reward power is the ability of a leader to control the resources (Lussier & Achua, 2015). Gates aligned the company’s resources with his vision to move the business successfully. He took the entire control over decision-making processes related to the employees’ performance, salary increment and evaluation of their performance. However, Bill established a performance assessment system in his company to ensure that employees’ activities are managed systematically through appraisals. Expert power incorporates leaders’ skills and knowledge. Gates’ technological know-how made his employees dependent on him. His skills, knowledge, and expertise helped him gain expert power since most employees respected the expert. Although Gates was an autocratic leader, he never used coercive power to threaten or manipulate employees for personal gains. Referent power, which involves a personal relationship between leaders with the followers is another power used by Gates (Lussier & Achua, 2015). He developed relationship with his employees based on friendship and loyalty. Gates autocratic behavior towards his followers and high level of expertise helped him gain employees’ loyalty. Consequently, the rate of employees’ retention in Microsoft is higher than in most companies.
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Contingency theory emphasizes the importance of applying a leadership style that matches the work setting. The theory helps in examining leadership effectiveness by focusing on the interaction between leadership style and the characteristics of the work setting. Fiedler contingency theory states that leadership effectiveness depends on the situation and the dominant trait of the leader. The dominant trait makes a leader to be either task-oriented or relationship-oriented (Wren, 2013). Task-oriented leaders derive satisfaction from their work by completing a task successfully. These leaders focus on the effective accomplishment of the task and are less concerned about interpersonal relations. On the other hand, relation-oriented leaders derive their satisfaction from building a close relationship with their subordinates. They are more concerned with the interpersonal relationship because they believe that it is a requirement for the accomplishment of tasks (Lussier & Achua, 2015). Gates concentrated more on improving employees’ performance rather than building a relationship with them.
Bill Gates was a task-oriented leader because he focused more on employees’ performance and did not put much effort to establish a close relationship with them. He pressured his employees to accomplish tasks in order to achieve the goals of the company. He gave direction to employees to fulfill his vision. As a task-oriented leader, Gates focused on daily operations, but later he realized the importance of improving his relationship with the employees. He interacted with employees to inspire them. Gates started devoting more time to the mutual communication either physically or through emails.
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Although Gates has exceptional leadership skills, his leadership style has four limitations. First, Gates had a dominating character, which made employees face difficulties in relation to him. Gates’ leadership was result driven; thus, he exerted much pressure on his subordinates, which made him unpopular. Second, Gates lacked employee relations. He was more concerned about work and focused less on developing good relations with his employees. Employee relation is one of the aspects that Gates should have improved while at Microsoft to increase employees’ motivation and engagement with the organizational goals. The third weakness of Gates’ leadership practices was his avoidance of problematic situations and conflicts. He avoided problematic situations and sometimes, he left issues unsolved, due to which his subordinates felt disoriented. Instead of avoiding conflicts, Gates should have faced them to increase his leadership effectiveness. Lastly, Gates did not allow competition in the software industry. He focused on winning and maintaining the leadership position of his company.