Leadership: Theory, Application, Skill Development

Bill Gates: A Successful Business Leader

A Successful Business Leader

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The business world has changed into an uncertain and competitive environment where business entities compete with each other on the basis of their distinctive competencies and strategies (Basefsky, Maxwell, Post, & Turner, 2004). Globalization, intensity of competition, and technological advancements has completely changed the way businesses operate and compete in their industries (Goldsmith & Hesselbein, 2006). The biggest role is played by the business leaders in the organizations who truly brought significant changes to the entire business landscape. The World has seen just a few business leaders who can be recognized as revolutionary for their organizations due to ground-breaking performances in their fields. In the supreme supervision of these business leaders, organizations flourished in such an astonishing way that they became examples for the next generation (Hannah, Woolfolk, & Lord, 2009).

This paper presents an analysis of the leadership styles and contributions of one of the world’s most successful business leaders — Bill Gates. The paper starts by discussing a brief profile of Bill Gates, and proceeds by highlighting the personality attributes and professional qualities that has made him a successful business leader of the present times. The major focus of the paper is towards discussing the way Bill Gates is able to lead the change which he has brought to the world of Information Technology.

Bill Gates: Brief Profile

Bill Gates (Complete name: William Henry Bill Gates III) is an American entrepreneur and chairman of the world’s largest personal computer software corporation, Microsoft. He co-founded Microsoft with Paul Allen and became the first Chief Executive Officer of the company (Dearlove, 1999). Bill Gates was born in 1955 in Washington, U.S. He is also the Co-founder and co-chairperson of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Chairman of Corbis, and the Chief Executive Officer of Cascade Investment. In addition to holding the position of Chairman in Microsoft, Bill Gates also holds the largest individual shareholding in the company; making him one of the most influential people in the business world (Miller, 2008). Gates has also been ranked among the richest people in the world. According to an estimate, the net worth of Bill Gates was U.S.$66 Billion at the start of year 2012. However, he has not always remained on the top of the world’s wealthiest people’ list due to big contributions to charities and donations every year (Microsoft, 2012).

Bill is not just recognized as the chairman of Microsoft or a wealthy American entrepreneur; he is also listed among the greatest business leaders who have completely changed the world through their innovative ideas, charismatic leadership style, and revolutionary decisions (Leaders with You, 2012). The following section presents a comprehensive analysis of the parameters which make Bill Gates a successful business leader in the eyes of the World.

Bill Gates as a Leader

A leader is the one who is responsible to lead the whole organizational members towards a common goal. He is supposed to subordinate his personal interests over the interests and prosperity of the organization (Bernthal & Wellins, 2006). He is not only responsible to make effective business decisions, but is also expected to bring innovation in the organization’s current processes and procedures in order to make it a competitive organization. In addition to these professional attributes, a leader must also have some specific personal traits in order to be recognized as a successful leader (Basefsky, Maxwell, Post, & Turner, 2004). Bill Gates possesses all the traits and attributes that are essential to be a successful business leader. These are now discussed below in detail:

1. Dedication and Vision:

Bill Gates has a dedication and commitment for the success and prosperity of his organization. The remarkable growth of Microsoft over the years is the biggest example of its chairman’s efforts and hard work (Miller, 2008). Bill Gates has a vision in his mind to make his organization prosper, reach the top, and maintain this market leadership forever (Leaders with You, 2012). With his efforts, dedication, and visionary leadership, Bill Gates has achieved this aim. At present, Microsoft is the largest and the strongest corporation in the world (Goldsmith & Hesselbein, 2006).

2. Innovative ideas:

In today’s competitive business environment, organizations need to institute processes and procedures that can give them a competitive advantage over other firms in the industry (Hannah, Woolfolk, & Lord, 2009). The biggest role in this regard is played by their business leaders who come up with innovative ideas and bring revolutionary changes in their ways of doing business (Bernthal & Wellins, 2006). Once these innovative ideas get successful, they become distinctive competencies for the organizations (Dearlove, 1999). When Bill Gates co-founded Microsoft with Paul Allen, the only thing they introduced to the world was simple computer programming (Miller, 2008). At present, Microsoft offers a wide range of personal computer software for all types of individual and business needs.

The computer software introduced by Microsoft is produced in the supervision of Bill Gates (Microsoft, 2012). The secret behind this innovative mind is that Bill Gates thinks beyond the limitations and boundaries which other industry leaders follow in their business strategies. The supervision of Bill Gates encourages the Microsoft workforce to use innovative ideas in each and every process carried out at the workplace and contribute towards the competitiveness of their organization (Goldsmith & Hesselbein, 2006).

3. Passion:

Bill Gates not only had the passion to make his organization stronger, but also wanted to become the most successful entrepreneur in the business world. His passion was to become a multi-millionaire in a short span of time by giving the world what it needs in this modern age. Bill Gates was mainly interested in computer programming in his youth. He continued this passion from his early age and became the world’s most successful CEO in a corporation which fully organizes his dreams in its operations.

4. Learn from the Mistakes:

A good business leader always learns from his mistakes. These mistakes are actually lessons which enable the leader to be cautious in the future and improve the areas where mistakes were done in the past (Goldsmith & Hesselbein, 2006). Bill Gates truly possesses this quality in his personality. Microsoft has seen numerous failures in its life in the supervision of Bill Gates, but he was the only person who did not give up in those severe circumstances. The most widely used operating system of Microsoft, Windows was criticized for different types of bugs, errors, and malware attacks, but Bill Gates handled everything gently and find out every possible way to remove these drawbacks from the system. He learnt from his past mistakes and made efforts to bring continuous improvements in the overall business operations of the company.

5: Risk taking and Management:

Risk taking is one of the greatest qualities which a business leader must possess in his personality. Risk taking refers to the leader’s aptitude to face different challenges and issues from the uncertain business environment with open arms (Bernthal & Wellins, 2006). Bill Gates has always been perfect in this personality attribute or leadership quality. From getting dropped out from Harvard to a series of failures and criticism at the Microsoft, the journey of Bill Gates consists of various risky adventures and achievements (Microsoft, 2012). He was not only a risk taker, but also a good manager of risks and challenges which he faced in his personal life at home as well as the professional life at Microsoft (Miller, 2008).

This risk management ability enabled him to come up with new ideas and innovations which other entrepreneurs were hesitant to introduce due to the risk of failure or heavy financial losses (Hannah, Woolfolk, & Lord, 2009). Whatever product Microsoft has introduced in the supervision of Bill Gates so far has passed through a critical and risky stage of acceptability among the target customers (Dearlove, 1999). It is a fact of great pride for this business leader that Microsoft products have always won a high level of acceptability among individual and corporate customers (Leaders with You, 2012).

The Change which Bill Gates brought

Although Bill Gates brought a number of revolutionary changes in the operations and processes of the company, but the most significant change was the introduction of innovative software that are tailored made to individual needs and requirements. Microsoft currently offers a wide range of software products for all types of individual and business needs. The change which Bill Gates has given to the world is in the form of customized products and services which were not being offered by any organization in the world. The uniqueness of this leadership style was the creativity which Bill Gates showed to the outside world. He did not ask the world what they want from a software producer; instead, he produced different software and created their need among their target customers.

This innovative and creative mind of Bill Gates has greatly contributed in making him the most influential and the most successful business leader of the present times. This change strategy was the result of Bill Gates’ vision which made him think beyond the industry patterns and introduce something very unique to the world of Information Technology. Thus, each and every computer program which Microsoft has introduced so far was either based on customers’ current needs and requirements or an innovative idea which Bill Gates introduced to create the need for some new product or service in the market (Dearlove, 1999).

How Bill Gates successfully led the Change?

1. Follow the Vision:

In leading this change successfully, Bill Gates fully utilized all his personal traits and professional leadership qualities in each and every step in the entire change strategy. First of all, Bill Gates showed his personal commitment towards the growth and success of his organization and decided to bring innovation in what this organization has been doing since its formation. Therefore, he followed his vision and introduced innovative ideas to produce unique computer programs and software that could change the way people use technological products and their innovative features. This vision and innovative ideas served as the basis for the change which Bill Gates wanted to bring in the world of Information Technology (Basefsky, Maxwell, Post, & Turner, 2004).

2. Produce, and create a need for it:

After following his vision and dreams, Bill Gates introduced computer software that he thought will be able to make the life of the general public easier than ever before. He did not ask anyone in the organization or the outside public what they want from this organization; he produced the software and created their need among the customers who mostly consist of individuals and businesses in the field of Science and Technology, Finance, Architecture, Health Sciences, and Music (Miller, 2008). The most recognized products of Microsoft are word processing software, spreadsheet software, presentation software, architectural designing software, audio and video management software, etc. All these software are not produced on specific demands or orders of individuals or business organizations; Microsoft has introduced them to the world and enabled them to use innovative products and services in their daily life (Dearlove, 1999).

3. Continuous Improvement:

Bill Gates is able to successfully lead the change by ensuring continuous improvements in the products or services introduced by Microsoft from time to time. For example, every computer programs introduced by Microsoft is upgraded on periodical basis. These upgraded versions of computer programs have more innovative features, less bugs and errors, and greater level of acceptability among its target customers. Bill Gates has always focused on competitiveness of its organization which can only be achieved if it is able to introduce new and improved products to the target customers before any of its competitors firms do (Leaders with You, 2012).

4. Keep an eye on the External Environment:

Another way in which Bill Gates ensures a successful change in the organization is keeping an eye on the strategies and tactics of the other industry participants. Bill Gates recognizes the importance of dealing with the pressures which competition from the industry puts on his organization (Leaders with You, 2012). These pressures are from the environmental factors and competitive forces. In order to lead the change in his organization in an effective and efficient way, Bill Gates strategizes his long-term policies and decisions in the light of intensity of competition and impacts of different environmental factors that not only affect Microsoft’s business operations, but also the customer preferences towards its products and services (Hannah, Woolfolk, & Lord, 2009).


Bill Gates, a successful business leader in the eyes of the world has led the greatest change in his organization and the world of Information Technology through his innovative ideas and visionary style of leadership (Dearlove, 1999). He was a university drop-out, but had a vision in his mind which persuaded him to do something very unique which no one has done before. He started his journey by introducing a simple computer program in the early years of Microsoft and leaded this organization in such a charismatic fashion that it became the world’s most successful computer software manufacturing corporation (Microsoft, 2012). The secret behind this successful change was the focus which Bill Gates kept on the competitiveness of his organization. He had a vision and direction in his mind, a passion in his heart, and dedication in his professional attitude; all of which helped him in becoming a successful business leader in the industry (Miller, 2008). He brought a big change in the way individuals and business entities used to manage their personal life and official tasks in the past. He introduced innovative and multi-functional computer programs that were produced in order to meet their needs and requirements of the modern age (Lussier & Achua, 2010). Bill Gates successfully managed to lead this change by keeping his focus on the customer requirements, his own vision and dedication, and the different competitive and environmental forces which could impact the organization’s performance and customer preferences in one way or another (Leaders with You, 2012). The charismatic way of leadership and strong personality attributes contributed in making him a successful business leader of the present times.


Basefsky, M., Maxwell, J.L., Post, A., & Turner, B.G. (2004). Manager to Manager – What Are the Five Most Important Qualities of an Effective Leader? Journal American Water Works Association, 96 (7): 34-36.

Bernthal, P., & Wellins, R. (2006). Trends in Leader Development and Succession, Academic journal article from Human Resource Planning, 29 (2): 5-9.

Dearlove, D. (1999). Business the Bill Gates Way: 10 Secrets of the World’s Richest Business Leader, 1st Edition. U.S.: AMACOM

Goldsmith, M., & Hesselbein, F. (2006). The Leader of the Future 2: Visions, Strategies, and Practices for the New Era, 1st Edition. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Hannah, S.T., Woolfolk, R.L., & Lord, R.G. (2009). Leader Self-Structure: a Framework for Positive Leadership, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Special Issue: The Emerging Positive Agenda, 30 (2): 269-290.

Leaders with You, (2012). Leadership Stories. Retrieved on August 14th, 2012, from

Lussier, R.N. & Achua, C.F. (2010). Leadership: Theory, Application, Skill Development, 4th Edition. Australia: South-Western/Cengage Learning.

Microsoft, (2012). Chairman — Bill Gates. Retrieved on September 30th, 2012, from

Miller, C. (2008). Bill Gates: how a geek changed the world. Retrieved on September 30th, 2012, from

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