When Microsoft changed its leadership culture

Written by guest author, Steve Bodanis Tuesday 24 November 2020
The fascinating transition from Steve Ballmer's high-octane leadership style to Satya Nadella's partnership-centred approach
MS Teams meeting

Steve Ballmer discovered early on that intimidation worked: that screaming at subordinates, lunging forward till you’re almost in their face, veins popping out on your neck, was an effective way to get them to do your bidding.

Back in 2000 when Ballmer became CEO of Microsoft after Bill Gates’s retirement, the company was dominant – a tank, unstoppable. But tech rarely stays still, and soon new competitors such as Google were threatening Microsoft’s dominance. In theory, this could have been Ballmer’s chance to work out what to do next. However, he wasn’t a man who operated like that. If there were threats coming from outside, he felt his job wasn’t merely to block them. His job was to obliterate them.

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