Microsoft, a company worth more than $19 billion that employs over 10,000 staff globally, has only had three CEOs in its 38-year history. After 14 years of bold, larger than life Steve Ballmer, Microsoft announced their new CEO — modest, understated 46-year-old Satiya Nadella. Quoted as being an icon of the new style of 21st century leadership, there are a few things kids and parents could learn from the new leader of the Microsoft Empire.
1) You don’t need an IVY league education to make it to the top. Nadella attended public schools, received a bachelors in electrical engineering from Manipal University, a master’s degree in computer science from University of Wisconsin, and an MBA from the University of Chicago. In fact, less than half of the world’s top 100 companies have CEOS with Ivy league degrees and 5% do not even have an undergraduate degree.
2) Playing team sports helps teach and master team environments – especially with Dolphin (collaborative) vs Tiger (autocratic) coaching. Nadella states that cricket was his first passion and states “playing cricket taught me more about working in teams and leadership that has stayed with me throughout my career,” A study published in Sports Psychology found that individual perceptions of supportive, collaborative training and instruction positively influenced the team’s sense of cohesion. In contrast, autocratic behavior by coaches was negatively associated with the four dimensions of cohesion.
3) Curiosity is a natural motivator. Satiya Nadalla is passionately curious and doesn’t seem to let anything stop him from learning. For example, he flew from Redmond, Washington to Chicago on weekends to complete his MBA while working at Microsoft. In his free time, he is known to buy more books and signs up for more online course than he “could possibly finish” and states “….. In the 15 minutes I have in the morning. You know, I’m trying to listen to a neuroscience class or something,” Curiosity is the fuel that drives internal motivation.
4) Humility is underestimated but never overlooked. Time and time again, the trait of humbleness is what often separates the good from the great. There are many highly intelligent people out there but many lack humility and are thus poor leaders. When we see the combination of intelligence, talent, humility, and compassion – we now we have a leader that inspires. Suresh Kotha, a professor at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business in Seattle describes Nadella CEO acceptance speech as “He’s saying `I’m here to help you, I’m humble, I’m willing to listen,'” A 2012 University of Buffalo study surveyed more than 700 employees and 218 managers and found that leader humility is associated with “more learning-oriented teams, more engaged employees, and lower voluntary employee turnover.”
5) Satiya Nadella has CQ . With the ability to play ( he loves to read poetry for fun), a sense of collaboration, and a balanced lifestyle, Nadella has been able to develop the 4 key skills needed for 21st century success- communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity. (http://www.p21.org/) I call these CQ and they come from an integration of logical left brain IQ and emotional right brain EQ. Living a life of balance in the real world allows us to develop our intuition, CQ, and ability to adapt and Satiya Nadella is certainly doing well in his ability to adapt to ever-changing waters.
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