Microsoft's Bill Gates, though a transactional leader, he is by far a charismatic leader. He really fits the mold of a computer "geek." He motivates his employees because his personality fits theirs. Thus, as a champion in the computer industry, he is the champion of the computer geeks. The more his company grows and wins in the marketplace, the harder people work for him.
He continues to have good vision, vision that gets good results. Good vision, good workers and a good history of success will keep Bill Gates and Microsoft in the limelight for years to come. In the 70's and 80's, personal computers were really struggling to find their "place in the sun" in the machine computation market. The general public was slow to accept computers. Most of the early computer companies do not exist any more.
Many spun off their assets, like IBM and XEROX. Personal computers at that time were clumsy. DOS was difficult to understand and limited in its capacity as compared to UNIX. The RAM was low and the clock speed was very slow.
Few good applications existed. In the early days, no hard drive existed. DOS was uploaded via floppy. It was clear that a different breed of individual would be needed for the personal computer industry.
Programming software is a difficult job. It takes concentration. You cannot just quit a program at noon for lunch. Nor can you just quit at 5 pm and go home. When you are on a roll in writing code, you have to keep going until it is done. Thus, personal computers gave birth to the "computer geek." This individual is not your conventional corporate, IBM type.
Since he is up for days without sleep, working on code, he dresses casually: jeans, T-shirt, and tennis shoes. He knows he is good at his trade and is proud of his work - he does not fit the top-down, authoritative environment of his dad's job. Because he will work on a programming idea for days without rest, he is at the office all the time, day and night. Thus, office lounges are equipped with pin-ball machines, free cokes, free candy, and bean-bag chairs. For this reason, Bill Gates leads primarily with his personality.
Let us face it: Bill Gates is quirky. He does strange things. He is the richest man in America, yet he flies coach to Japan and dresses very casually just like any computer geek. His employees pick up on this, they know he is one of them. Furthermore, computer geeks, being the proud tradesman that they are, enjoy Gates' ability to celebrate their success in the business by treating them with grandiose events. For instance, in 1992 when Gates held an all company meeting at the Kingdome in Seattle.
The computer geeks love this kind of stuff. They are good and do not feel like they have to apologize for it. The royal treatment at the Kingdome just underscores that fact. Not to mention that Bill Gates also owns a $35 million home and drives a Porsche. This flamboyant aspect of his personality, along with his casual appearance, makes him "right-on" with the "computer jocks" Bill Gates definitely uses two situational contingency approaches in his leadership (participate and delegate) and these approaches compliment his chosen path for achieving goals (participate and achievement oriented).
Firstly, he knows how to judge which leadership skill is necessary and when. When it comes to product lines and programming, he takes a hands off approach, he delegates. He picks the best graduates, out of the best universities and gives them lots of responsibility. This opens up the priceless entrepreneur spirit within every employee and makes it Microsoft's own. However, when it comes to meetings, he will not just set at the back of the room and play the role of the boss. He jumps into the details of the meeting - questioning, debating, and inquiring.
This is participative. This style of leadership adds value to the employee's self-worth - "look, the boss is interested in my ideas." As long as Bill Gates does not turn it into a "grill session", he will develop closeness and loyalty from his employees. Computer Jocks like recognition for their hard work and unique skills; and will do anything for the man that can recognize it and value it. As to Gates' method of achieving goals, he is definitely participative. Gate's is a fellow "computer geek." He understands the business. He works primarily with managers, and even there; he gives them a lot of freedom.
You will not catch him looking of the shoulder of some programmer down in the work room, badgering him for improper use of nested do loops. On the contrary, he knows how it is. He creates an environment that will let them work properly: free coke, flexible schedules, casual dress, bean-bag chairs, game-room, etc. That being said, his method for realizing goals uses an achievement method of motivating. Microsoft runs a lean operation. They under-staff their projects.
Not only does this save money, but it also plays into the egos of the geeks. Computer people are solitary, introverted. They feel misunderstood for their messy clothes and greasy hair and thick glasses. When they are given an impossible programming task with a ridiculously short amount of time to do it; an opportunity is given to prove the world wrong. They love an opportunity to validate themselves in society by being good at what they do. So, in the end, Gates' does not bore himself with hovering over the shoulders of his employees, scrutinizing every do loop, if then statement, and subroutine link.
He delegates that and maintains a close relationship with his top managers who can get the job done. Rather, Gates' main attribute as a leader is the fact that he is really more of an icon. He leads through personality and charisma. In the media, he is definitely self-confident, yet not rude or brash. He is unconventional. He dresses casually at work and wears a suit when on TV (although, one may notice that his hair is never combed properly, not even when in a suit).
He also does not come across as the typical, "meat and potatoes", "give me the bottom-line", type of manager. His thin frame and squeaky voice are clear proof of this. Note that the "techno freaks" just love that, they feel like "he is one of us." His employees will do the impossible for him. He is their champion. But perhaps Gates's trong est attribute is his vision - this secures his position, on top of everything, as the undisputed patron saint of the misunderstood computer jock. His vision has taken Microsoft from operating software company, to applications software, to internet provider.
Now he is even thinking about how to use the computer as a source of information, rather than a computational device. Using type and voice, a person will be able to find any information about anything. The information can be on your computer or on-line. It can be in the form of voice, text, and video. With Gates' at the helm, Microsoft will continue to grow. He has the right ideas, can find the right people to work for him, and knows how to motivate them.
But, most important, are his ideas. Without the right idea and vision, everything else does not matter.