9 Leadership Qualities of Bill Gates

7 min read

In 1987, Bill Gates was named the youngest billionaire in the world. Gates will go down in history as one of the figures that shaped and changed our world.

The creator of Microsoft is not just a business magnate, philanthropist, and computer programmer. He’s also an effective leader.

Through Bill Gate’s leadership skills, Microsoft beat out all other software developers' competition and became the sole developer for IBM personal computers, launching Gates and Microsoft into technological stardom.

To run his Microsoft empire, Gates has had to employ some of the finest leadership skills requiring various strategies.

From these leadership skills, we can assess how effective a leader Bill Gates was and is and learn how to manage start-up tech companies and everything from small businesses to large corporations. Below are nine leadership qualities of Bill Gates.

Setting high goals

Microsoft is the biggest name in software today, and this is in huge part thanks to the loft goals of Bill Gates. Gates has said of goals for Microsoft, “Early on, Paul Allen and I set the goal of a computer on every desk and in every home.

It was a bold idea, and a lot of people thought we were out of our minds to imagine it was possible.” Out of their minds, perhaps. Microsoft was started during a time when governments and giant corporations only used computers, and Americans couldn’t even fathom the idea of owning a personal computer in their own homes for leisure.

Pre-internet, pre laptop or PC, yet, Gates had the ability to see into the future and set this goal early on. Goal setting is one of the best strategies for success you can have as a leader. Without goals, it’s virtually impossible to be the leader of anything, much less a giant corporation or even a small business.

To set your goals, it’s important to understand as a leader that they must be timely, realistic, and also lofty, much like the goals Bill Gates has set for himself and Microsoft.

Encouraging creativity

Creativity is an important aspect of any job, whether it’s working as a mechanic to solve problems and diagnose cars or working at a software company developing new ideas and programs.

Creativity is at the center of all production, and there’s no better way to boost a business’s success than with lots of it. As a leader, it’s important to encourage creativity in your employees, no matter what role they play.

Bill Gates is known for his “Think Week” retreats, where he goes off for days at a time and brings with him 100 or so papers of ideas written by his employees. Not only does he read these papers, but he also responds to employee ideas and even creates internal emails to be shared with Microsoft staff on their ideas.

By encouraging employees to get creative and take the time to jot their ideas down, then go over them, Gates shows his leadership isn’t just him knowing everything. Instead, it’s him learning from his employees, whose creativity continues to help Microsoft grow.

Personalized feedback

If you don’t already know, Bill Gates wasn’t a laid-back and easy boss. He is most known for his aggressive attitude when trying to make Microsoft grow and prosper.

However, though he did, in a sense, browbeat his employees, they appreciated his ability to give them excellent feedback on anything, whether it was coding or working for him. In an article written by CEOToday, staff members of Gates said, “A lot of people don’t like their jobs because they don’t get any feedback. There was no problem there.

You would know exactly what Bill thought of the work you were doing.” Giving feedback to your employee doesn’t just improve communication skills (which is essential for all leaders), but it also adds a level of respect and trust in your relationship with your employees.

Perfecting skills

To be the best at something takes hours and hours of dedication, practice, and passion. It takes bravery to be able to hone in on one sole thing and make it your life’s purpose.

That is exactly what Bill Gates did, along with his friend and schoolmate Paul Allen when they launched Microsoft. Instead of pursuing an education at Harvard, Gates instead chose to drop out altogether and spend time setting up Microsoft.

He knew he was good at programming and had started to do so at the early age of 13. Knowing you’re good at something isn’t enough to be an effective entrepreneur and leader.

Rather, dedicating the time, and even your life, to the pursuit of perfecting your craft, is what it’s all about. By perfecting your craft, you become the expert that others turn to for help.

Resilience

Bill Gates is no stranger to drama, lawsuits, and life’s pitfalls. In fact, he was hit with an antitrust lawsuit that could have derailed Microsoft altogether when a judge ruled Microsoft to be a monopoly.

In 2000, Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson informed Microsoft it would have to split into two separate companies, with one being Windows and the other being everything else.

To make a long story short, Microsoft is still standing 21 years later, and although Gates has since stepped down as Microsoft’s CEO, his resilience in the face of adversity is what makes him not just an effective leader but business owner.

His resilience and ability to adapt to the changes set forth by the court are what kept Microsoft standing even until today.

Relentless

It’s not just resilience that Bill Gates has, but relentlessness too. From pushing his antitrust case to the hands of the Supreme Court and not giving up on his company to working days and nights in a row when first beginning Microsoft, Gates put his all into becoming the billionaire he is today.

This relentlessness is something that has allowed Microsoft to grow and what makes Gates such an effective leader. There is perhaps no better project management skill than that of being relentless. To be relentless, one must know how to put pressure on themselves and their staff, but also when to relax and enjoy the business.

Nowadays, Gates has given up on his all-nighters and long days and assures everyone he needs at least 7 hours of sleep every day!

Learning from others

No one is meant to walk this Earth alone and for a good reason. By learning from others, we are able to not just allow ourselves to grow but share that wealth of knowledge with others.

As humans, we are made to be social creatures, and Bill Gates is no exception. Not only is he a good leader in regards to leading his many employees at Microsoft, but he allows himself to be led and taught by none other than his friend and mentor, Warren Buffet.

Buffet and Gates have been friends for years, and Gates has said, “Of all the things I’ve learned from Warren, the most important thing might be what friendship is all about.” The duo has taught each other about everything from stocks to technology, and Gates has allowed Buffett to be his mentor when it comes to investing.

Having a strong mentor can not just help you be an effective leader but also improve your overall career, just like it has improved Gates'.

Focus

Speaking of Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, Gates has said that of all the things he’s learned from Buffett, one of the most important was how to focus and how to prioritize his time.

Prioritizing time allows leaders to be organized while also putting goals they want to accomplish first and leaving unimportant tasks to the end.

Focus and leadership go hand in hand, as leaders must be focused enough to put the good of the business (and their employees) first. Gates himself has learned to focus more on issues at hand by prioritizing certain tasks and people he meets with.

Delegating

According to Bill Gates himself, delegating was one of the last yet most important skills he learned to do as a leader.

We all know that Gates is a genius when it comes to programming and how he spent countless hours perfecting his craft and bringing Microsoft to what it is today. Nowadays, however, Gates isn’t behind a computer desk working on coding, but rather is trusting his staff to code software so he can dedicate more time to growing the business and scaling.

Letting go, delegating, and trusting your employees might be some of the most difficult things to do as a leader. Yet, if you want to see your business grow, as Gates has, to its full potential, it’s an absolute must.

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