LED 4100This week in our reading we look at seven distinctive leaders: Bill Gates, Lou Gerstner, Alfred P. Slone Jr, M.C. Escher, King Solomon, Phil Knight, and Michael Dell. What do these leaders have in common? What sets them apart? Compare and contrast at least three of these leader’s characteristics and leadership styles, and relate them to the leadership theories discussed in the article.

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I will consider and compare Bill Gates, King Solomon, and Phil Knight. Each of these leaders has in common that they have produced a great following of people and legacy of products that will influence the world. Most importantly, they share a set of skills that determines the success or failure of a leader. As mentioned in the reading, (2007, p. 108), three categories illuminate the skills of a leader: technical, interpersonal, and conceptual. The interpersonal side is especially important, as evidenced in the studies that Trevino and others (2014) consult. These pertain to leadership style and work environment: “one study found that the leader’s level of cognitive moral development positively influences employee perceptions of ethical climate and other employee attitudes. This work suggests that leader selection and development may be important for creating and sustaining an ethical climate and points to the potential importance of studying other antecedents of ethical climate” (p. 640). What appears here is not only the emphasis on the interpersonal skills of the leader. Rather, the comment by Trevino shows that the three skills mentioned in the course reading actually depend upon each other.

Bill Gates recently appeared in an article (2016) that features his release of a math formula regarding climate change. This clearly evinces his skills in the technical field. King Solomon received visitors from around the ancient Near East who wanted to hear his wisdom. In addition to orchestrating the construction of the Temple, Solomon also held the most wisdom of anyone in the land. He knew the technical skills of debate and intelligence as it was viewed in his time. Finally, Phil Knight’s intelligence as a leader shows in his skills of identifying the need in the world. He noted the lack of shoes in his travels and the need for simple, reliable sets of athletic apparel.

Team leadership also provides a helpful model for considering these leaders. We often think of leadership as a solo venture, where one man or woman achieves a great amount for the rest of the people and leads as an individual. However, today, team leadership is becoming more and more popular. The benefits of this method also have proven to be true. Terms like “collaboration” and “leadership team” now fill the discourse about leadership. Bill Gates could not have accomplished his work without his other co-founder, hence the title itself implies the presence of a team. King Solomon exhibits a more independent style, but this must be understood in the context of ancient advisors who helped the king. Knight, however, is a more independent rather than team leader. He built Nike and then stepped down from his position as CEO.

  • Lane, R. (23 Feb 2016). Bill Gates Just Released the Math Formula That will Solve Climate Change. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/randalllane/2016/02/23/bill-gates-just-released-the-math-formula-that-will-solve-climate-change/#2322d7075ab8
  • Mackenzie, K.D., & Barnes, F.B. (2007). The unstated consensus of leadership approaches. International Journal of Organizational Analysis, 15(2), 92-118. DOI: 10.1108/19348830710868266Mackenzie-Barnes_2007.pdf
  • Treviño, L., Nieuwenboer, N., & Kish-Gephart, J. (2014). “(Un)Ethical Behavior in Organizations.” Annual Review of Psychology, 65, pp. 635-660.