In his ezine today, my buddy Curt Skene, a speaker on sales and leadership with a background at Microsoft, has posted one of the best leadership articles I’ve seen.
By looking at the management styles of three leaders at Microsoft, he comes close to defining executive excellence.
Curt’s ezine is not yet posted on his website, http://www.aahhah.com/ezine.htm, so I hope he’ll forgive me for summarizing his insights here.
“Bill Gates would probably tell you to be more curious about the world that surrounds you. He would remind you that his fortune came when he thought of how the world might be with a computer on every desktop. His passion is in asking, 'what might change?' ...
“Bill surrounds himself with people who think differently than him... Bill was always open to be challenged but keep in mind he demanded that everyone think smart. If you had a different way of seeing the world that’s ok, just be sure you can articulate it clearly…
“Finally, Bill might tell you to never take your success for granted. No industry leader leads forever. He would remind you of all the market leaders that have come and gone. Be paranoid about being the best, don't ever take your position for granted.
“Steve Ballmer [current Microsoft CEO] would remind you that you can never know enough about your customer and you can never know it soon enough. ‘Be customer-passionate,’ are words he would yell and scream until he knew that everyone understood that the customer will always be our livelihood…
“Steve would tell you to know more about the customer’s problem than they do themselves, and to have better answers to the problems your customer faces... As CEO he believed his best day was spent in front of a customer learning and exploring their business and the way they make money.
“Frank Clegg [former president of Microsoft Canada] would tell you to net it out. Your story, your plans, your approach all needed to be clear, concise and crisp. If you can’t say it in one page then you don’t know your message well enough. ..
“Frank would also tell you that your people are your brand. Treat them well, respect them and give them the freedom, autonomy and flexibility to do what’s right for the business. If you question your ability to do that, then question your hiring or management practices…
“Twelve years ago Frank telephoned me and told me to leave the business to be with my dying Brother. His words were simple, “I don’t care what’s on your agenda, you need to be where you’re needed most.” I can still hear the passion and feeling in his words today. I flew out to Calgary that very night, my brother died a few days later. Frank always knew when to push people hard, but to do it in a way that everyone knew he cared immensely about their future.”
If you're serious about improving your business, here's the place to start.
Next: Leadership Lessons from Darth Vader.