America is the land of dreamers and leaders. Almost every era has produced a number of leaders in all walks of life, and our era is no different. When we think of leaders, there are several names that come to mind including President Reagan, President Obama, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Warren Buffet, and Jeff Bezos. However, the person whose leadeship record has inspired me the most is Bill Gates, and his leadership skills have not only made him successful as a businessman but also a philanthropist.
Bill Gates is a leader who needs no introduction. It is reasonable to assume he is one of the most recognizable people in the world. I admit my first introduction to Bill Gates did not occur as the founder of Microsoft but as the richest person in the world who has been occupying the top spot for decades now. However, as I learned more about Bill Gates, I realized his wealth is actually one of the less impressive facts about him though it does enable him to do lot of positive things in the world that most of us cannot do.
I have chosen Bill Gates because he continues to teach us about leadership, even after retiring from Microsoft. Bill Gates’ life and career are great examples of how leadership does not just result from official ranks but can also be demonstrated without official rank or status. Bill Gates also teaches us power can be both formal and informal. While his formal powers allowed him to exert authority at Microsoft and now his namesake foundation, he influences hundreds of millions of people, if not billions, through informal powers because he has earned their respect and admiration. Bill Gates has the ability to inspire people like few other leaders, so a closer look at his leadership style can give us important clues about effective leadership.
Bill Gates displays several characteristics of effectiv leadership. One such charactristic is the ability to develop a vision and inspire the followers to get behind it. Bill Gates’s vision as a technology leader was to put computer in every home, and he did succeed in that by creating an operating system that became the first choice of most PC makers. His vision as a philanthropist is to get rid of some of the most devastating diseases in the world and to improve the economic and social status of some of the most impoverished people in the world. It is clear many people in the world have bought into his vision, particularly, his close friend Warren Buffet who has even pledged most of his wealth to Bill Gates foundation.
Bill Gates also teaches us the importance of open communication with relevant stakeholders. Microsoft emerged as a major force despite being younger than technology giants like IBM and Xerox etc. because Bill Gates created an environment of open communication at Microsoft and also built reliable partnerships with PC makers. As a philanthropist, Bill Gates frequently uses social media to communicate with his followers.
A good leader is a lifelong learner. Bill Gates is a computer nerd but he has reinvented himself at his second career as a philanthropist. Anyone who follows him realizes he has read a lot about healthcare issues, and he frequently hold video interviews with experts from diverse range of backgrounds. It is clear Bill Gates tries to learn from some of the finest experts in different fields, and he also uploads the videos in order to educate his followers and fans.
Good leaders are not afraid of innovation and out-of-the-box thinking, and Bill Gates has continued to demonstrate this throughout his life. He dropped out of Harvard to build a company though it was quite a risky move. He decided to focus only on software instead of both hardware and software because he realized there is much more profit in software development than hardware development. As a philanthropist, he continues to experiment to devise new ways to address the health and economic challenges in some of the poorest countries in the world. He, alongwith his friend Warren Buffet, started a campaign to urge fellow billionaires to pledge a significant proportion of their wealth to the society.
Bill Gates enjoys high crdibility that is also a sign of effective leadership. He enjoyed credibility as a businessman because he was one of the pioneers behind the PC revolution, His followers followed him because Bill Gates led by example and was extremely competitive. When he talks about global health issues, everyone from citizens and businesses to governments listen to him because he has demonstrated deep personal commitment to global health issues. He was also able to persuade fellow billionaires to pledge to philanthropy because he set the example first.
Bill Gates serves as a great inspiration for me to become a leader in both personal and professional lives. First of all, I pay close attention to my actions and words so that they are consistent with each other. I believe a person’s credibility matters and people are more likely to pay attention to me and even follow my instructions if they trust and respect me. Bill Gates has taught me it is important to have a goal and to stay focused on the bigger picture. A leader provides guidance to himself and to his followers. I will set goals for myself and remain focused on them. Similarly, I will develop a clear vision for my followers so that they know what kind of future we are seeking together. I also realize the importance of surrounding yourself with the right people and forming partnerships with other stakeholders because there are few things we can achieve on our own. We often need help and even if we can achieve something on our own, it is still better to find partners because together we can achieve a lot more.
Bill Gates is a proof one does not need official rank or powers to be an effective leader because one can also possess and exercise informal powers. Like other effective leaders, Bill Gates always has a clear vision of what he wants to achieve and he also communicates this vision to other stakeholders. Bill Gates believes in open communication that also helps me establish credibility and connection with other people. Bill Gates leads by example which allows him to inspire other people to follow him. He is a lifelong learner and he continues to embrace creativity and innovation just as he did in the past. I also aspire to become a leader, and aim to emulate the lessons from Bill Gates’ leadership in order to become an effective leader.