By channeling his energy in another direction, Gates shows that he is not a one-dimensional leader only involved in promoting his company, but a three-dimensional leaders interested in helping the world be a better place. Just one of the programs that has gained media attention is the eradication of malaria, a disease almost non-existent in America but still prevalent in many other parts of the world. Another writers notes, "Malaria strikes 300m people every year, mainly in the farming parts of Africa where mosquito eradication programmes are nonexistent. Of those infected, 1.1m die, most of them children below the age of ten" (Vesely, 2003). The Gates Foundation, along with pharmaceutical companies, are committed to eradicating this, and other diseases such as smallpox, that have been out of control in many other parts of the world, largely due to a lack of funding and support.
Ultimately, Bill Gates leadership style is one of total control. Microsoft controls the software/operating system marketplace around the world, and Gates is equally controlling of his business empires. Another biographer notes, "By making MS-DOS and Windows the universal, all but inescapable entry into personal computing, Gates created a degree of market control that, until the Internet arrived, gave Microsoft's business a very high degree of predictability (and profit)" (Heller, 2006). However, this control comes directly from Gates own leadership style. He is legendary for feeling the need to minutely control every aspect of Microsoft's operation, from approving computer codes to approving expenses. Biographer Heller continues, "Control is basic to Gates' nature and his management practice. He has an obsession with detail and with checking up (he even used to sign expenses for his right-hand man, Steve Ballmer)" (Heller, 2006). Gates' attention to detail is only one of his management techniques, but it is one of the most well-known and discussed.
Perhaps one of the only things Gates failed to fully visualize was the impact the Internet would have on the PC world. In the early 1990s, the Internet really caught on with computer users, and Microsoft failed to create an Internet browser at the beginning. Instead, Netscape was the first company to develop a successful browser, and it became the industry standard in the 1990s. Microsoft eventually developed Internet Explorer, and bundled it with its' Microsoft Word and then Office software, in a move that many called an attempt to monopolize the computer industry. Gates, usually so perceptive, failed to predict the Internet phenomenon, and it was one of his very few failures as Microsoft's leader.
Gates is not a perfect leader. Many call Microsoft bureaucratic, extremely bogged down in numerous levels of management, and extremely controlling of its workers, their deadlines, and production in general (Heller, 2006). Author Witzel notes, "Microsoft development teams are constantly pressed for results and challenged to go beyond the limits set for them" (Witzel, 2003, p. 134). Gates readily admits he is a control freak, and the way he works indicates that early on, he maintained absolute control over just about every aspect of Microsoft's operation. He writes,
In May, I'll go off for a week and read 100 or more papers from Microsoft employees that examine issues related to the company and the future of technology. I've been doing this for over 12 years. It used to be an all-paper process in which I was the only one doing the reading and commenting. Today the whole process is digital and open to the entire company (Gates, 2006).
One of the marks of a good leader is the ability to alter and change their leadership style as the need arises, and Gates does have this ability. While he is controlling, he is able to recognize this and give up control (or at least share it) with others to maintain the integrity and quality of the company, and that indicates that he can learn from his leadership mistakes, rather than continuing to make them.
In conclusion, Bill Gates is a detailed leader who loves control, and has an intuitive nature that seems to see into the future in many cases. While he has been criticized for his controlling nature, he has led Microsoft to be one of the most successful companies on the planet, and taken himself to the position of the world's richest man. Gates may be stepping back his leadership role with Microsoft in the future, but it is clear he will continue to lead with finesse in the future - his philanthropic organization may come to be seen as one of the most influential non-profit organizations on the planet, as well.
Editors. (2007). Biography: Bill Gates. Retrieved 12 March 2008 from the Microsoft.com Web site: http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/exec/billg/bio.mspx.
Gates, B. (2006). How I work. Retrieved 12 March 2008 from the CNN.com Web site: http://money.cnn.com/2006/03/30/news/newsmakers/gates_howiwork_fortune/.
Hanlon, M. What a Microsofty; Bill Gates created the modern computer and, with ruthless business brutality made himself the richest man in the world. (2006, June 17). The Daily Mail (London, England), p. 46.
Heller, R. (2006). Management styles & leadership styles of Warren Buffet & Bill Gates. Retrieved 12 March 2008 from the ThinkingManagers.com Web site: http://www.thinkingmanagers.com/management/management-styles.php.
Vesely, M. (2003, December). The Gates battle against Malaria:…