Bill Gates is the founder of Microsoft while Steve Jobs founded Apple. Both of them brought into a revolution computer technology. Gates and Jobs turned their passion for electronics into what is now a multi-billion dollar industry. But prior to achieving such great lengths, both CEOs experienced trials and challenges along the way. Both leaders, however, were able to overcome these challenges. Their life stories are similar on one end --- both of them are college drop-outs--- and different on the other.
Anthony J. Mayo; Mark Benson
Harvard Business Review (407028-PDF-ENG)
December 04, 2006
Case questions answered:
- How have Gates and Jobs shaped technology? How has technology shaped them and their companies?
- Compare the leadership styles and approaches of Gates and Jobs. In what ways are they similar? Different?
- Who do you believe is a better business leader? Who would you want to work for? Who would you want to work for you?
- How does a charismatic founder transform a company for long term success?
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Bill Gates and Steve Jobs Case Answers
1. How have Gates and Jobs shaped technology? How has technology shaped them and their companies?
They were influenced by society’s emphasis on technology and science. Both of them studied engineering and computer science and presented their talents from childhood. From early ages, Gates and Jobs showed their curiosity, were interested in the encyclopedias, had an extraordinary mind and, as a result, was struggling from the standard school system.
Afterwards, they got acquainted with their future best friends and business partners with whom they were realizing their projects. Gates-Allen and Jobs-Wozniak relationships were important to the initial success of Microsoft and Apple.
Due to their communication skills and abilities to see the potential of people, discover and develop their competences, they hired the proper employees and estimated necessary connections with the necessary people. Applying these skills and creativity they shaped their technology, while their passion for technology and further successful results shaped their ambitions, initiatives, and motivations.
2. Compare the leadership styles and approaches of Gates and Jobs. In what ways are they similar? Different?
Bill Gates applies a more participative leadership style. He believes in the value of input from his employees for overall company success. The driving force behind the success of Microsoft is the enthusiastic and hardworking attitude of Bill Gates. He understands that there are fluctuations and changes that every businessman has to adapt and overcome in order to succeed. With this business attitude, Gates has created a company that has been able to withstand all the financial and operational troubles and it still occupies the highest level. Through the process of delegation of tasks, Gates was able to develop a company that fully uses the skills of his team members.
One of the biggest differences with Bill Gates from Steve Jobs is he was not as creative as Steve. He didn’t share his passion for developing through his ideas alone, instead, he utilized the ideas and advice of his team. He had a pure vision of what he needed and how to realize it.
Steve Jobs is considered to be more autocratic leadership who supposed the leader is the main person in charge of decision making. This leadership style may seem quite rough and show the mistrust to his employees, but he was an idea generator who could realize these ideas in a proper way. Through his innovative ideas, Jobs has created one of the most successful tech companies on the globe. Jobs understood the importance of taking risks and could be considered one of the biggest risk-taking leaders in the world. Even though during his career he made mistakes, he was always the first to learn from them.
In comparison to Gates, Jobs didn’t understand the benefit of working together as a team with the employees. He was seen as demanding on his team members and more dictator than an actual leader. While his techniques were difficult to those who worked for him, they were quite effective for the success of Apple products. Steve Jobs had a creative design mindset and desired to create a product exactly as he had a vision of it. He was a true motivational speaker with the ability to get people interested and passionate about something. He developed a working atmosphere that was created through positive thinking and innovative design.
Despite the fact they had different leadership styles they had major things in common, the passion and dedication to innovation in the world of computing technology.
3. Who do you believe is a better business leader? Who would you want to work for? Who would you want to work for you?
In my opinion, a successful business leader should possess the following components:
- Passion – the leader should be extremely interested not only in the final result but in the process itself and every step of the process.
- Vision – it is highly crucial when the leader has a full picture of the project/job in order to be able to explain to the followers and make them work together to reach the goal
- Motivation – the leader should have enough potential and motivation to unite the subordinates according to their personal characteristics
- Effective communication – a successful leader must have strong communication skills to cooperate with the colleagues, understand their visions, be open-minded to their claims and suggestions
- Innovation – the leader should be an idea generator, who is always ready not only follow the superior’s orders but also suggest own ideas for development and improvement of the business.
As for me, I desire to work for a person like Bill Gates, because for me it is vitally essential when the leader is not only interested in the subordinates’ opinions, but also take them into account. It is more than essential to have a feeling of belonging to the common deal, be necessary for a certain step realization. It is quite difficult to work for a person like Steve Jobs because he expects strict compliance and implementations of the tasks. Regarding this position, I would like similar people to work for me. They should be full of energy and ideas, be passioned about the common deal and be able to have a significant impact on a certain project.
4. How does a charismatic founder transform a company for long term success?
The charismatic leaders have a quality that inspires people to the actions. In order to lead the company to the long-term success the charismatic leader should:
- Apply extraordinary communication skills to motivate employees and be capable to communicate with them one-to-one as well as in a group
- Have maturity, wisdom, and knowledge which they have accumulated over the years of life and business experiences
- Have a sense of humility, because if they place a lot of value on each employee, they should have the ability to truly listen to their concerns
- Use a positive body language, making eye contact, smile, and introduce themselves to strangers with the genuine joy of making a new contact
- Be self-improving and self-monitoring person who knows all his strengths and qualities that make him a charismatic leader, and try to develop these skills as well as acquire new ones