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Traits of a Good Boss

by Miki Saxon


I was never impressed with Steve Ballmer when he headed Microsoft.

I didn’t follow him closely, but based on what I read/heard he seemed opaque, bombastic, prone to management by edict and incredibly arrogant.

I could have missed it, but I never heard Ballmer admit a mistake, even with a debacle like Windows 8.

Admitting errors or missteps, being vulnerable and being open to saying “I don’t know” are all signs of a secure executive.

So far, that description seems to fit Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s new CEO.  

There are three things that we are thinking hard about when we think about Windows moving forward. We have to nail the user experience. It doesn’t mean one user experience for all form factors but consistency that makes sense when using any one of those devices. Let’s face it, we got some things wrong in Windows 8, and I feel very good about the progress we’re making, especially for Windows 7 upgrade into Windows 10.

The next area we’re thinking about is the IT component. Getting identity packaging, device management and data security right.

Lastly, the developer. We will have the Universal Windows Application platform.

That’s a far cry from the old Microsoft that built what they wanted, arrogantly assumed that everyone would love it—and wouldn’t back down when they didn’t.

Of course, no matter how smart or mindful people still end up with their foot in their mouth as Nadella did at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing.

Mr. Nadella, the chief executive of Microsoft, suggested on Thursday that women who do not ask for more money from their employers would be rewarded in the long run when their good work was recognized.

Oops, not something that would ever be said to a man; actually, not the smartest comment anytime, let alone now, with the spotlight on the way women are treated in tech.

Twitter, of course, lit up.

But Nadella didn’t waste time before he said he was wrong and he didn’t dance or minimize.

“Was inarticulate re how women should ask for raise,” he wrote in a Twitter post. “Our industry must close gender pay gap so a raise is not needed because of a bias.”

Mr. Nadella went further in an email to Microsoft employees on Thursday night, saying “I answered that question completely wrong.”

He added: “If you think you deserve a raise, you should just ask.”

Secure bosses know when to back down.

And when to say, “I was wrong.”

They know when showing vulnerability is better than pretending invincibility.

They are willing to say ‘I don’t know’ and listen to whomever has the information.

They don’t always need to be right.

Flickr image credit: BK

One Response to “Traits of a Good Boss”
  1. December Leadership Development Carnival Says:

    […] Saxon of MAPping Company Success shares “Traits of a Good Boss,” which highlights four important leadership traits as exemplified by Satya Nadella, […]

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