Microsoft CEO: Leaders Must 'Find the Rose Petals in a Field of S#$@'
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"To be a leader in this company, your job is to find the rose petals in a field of shit."
Perhaps not my best line of poetry, but I wanted these people to stop seeing all the things that are hard and start seeing things that are great and helping others see them too. Constraints are real and will always be with us, but leaders are the champions of overcoming constraints. They make things happen. Every organization will say it differently, but for me there are three expectations -- three leadership principles -- for anyone leading others at Microsoft.
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The first is to bring clarity to those you work with. This is one of the foundational things leaders do every day, every minute. In order to bring clarity, you've got to synthesize the complex. Leaders take internal and external noise and synthesize a message from it, recognizing the true signal within a lot of noise. I don't want to hear that someone is the smartest person in the room. I want to hear them take their intelligence and use it to develop deep shared understanding within teams and define a course of action.
Second, leaders generate energy, not only on their own teams but across the company. It's insufficient to focus exclusively on your own unit. Leaders need to inspire optimism, creativity, shared commitment and growth through times good and bad. They create an environment where everyone can do his or her best work. And they build organizations and teams that are stronger tomorrow than today.
Third, and finally, they find a way to deliver success, to make things happen. This means driving innovations that people love and are inspired to work on; finding balance between long-term success and short-term wins; and being boundary-less and globally minded in seeking solutions.
I love these three leadership principles. The heart of my message: Changing the culture at Microsoft doesn't depend on me, or even on the handful of top leaders I work most closely with. It depends on everyone in the company -- including our vast cadre of middle managers who must dedicate themselves to making everyone they work with better, every day.
I totally empathize with other leaders, and see my job as helping them become even better. Leadership can be a lonely business. It can also be a noisy place. When a leader steps into the arena, especially in today's loud echo chamber of social media, he or she can be tempted to make decisions that will result in instant gratification. But, we have to look beyond the temporal, discounting what someone will write in this moment's tweet or tomorrow's news. Reasoned judgment and inner conviction are what I expect from myself and from the leaders around me. Make the call, but don't expect consensus.
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