History is made by people. Some individuals have more influence on history than others, thus leaving their names in history and textbooks similar to a scripts left on the stones. They are of different backgrounds, personalities and they pursued many different things each with own method but one common feature of all of them is that they are unique – extraordinary personalities. And this report is a reflection on what I knew and found out about a person who already became modern world’s idol of wealth, power and success – Mr. William Henry “Bill” Gates III. Hereby, we will mainly focus on his personality and motivation, group working and leadership skills and finally his decision making abilities.
Being very popular worldwide, there is so little known about Bill Gates’ personality except the fact that he is uniquely odd! Even being only part time CEO of Microsoft, he is a person who can influence the lives of tens of millions of ordinary people and the way thousands of firms do their businesses. Then the question comes “what kind of person he is?” Those who know him in person would definitely say that being apathetic but easily excitable, confident and competition feared, he is a boy that hasn’t grown from the sixth grade who fits neither Hippocrates’ temperaments theory nor any other. Knowing one sided approach to his personality is by far not rational, we will be analyzing his personality from different theories’ logic and try to avoid being categorical since categorization itself is true subjective.
Myers-Briggs’ indicator is widely used technique for personality analysis which based on four personality traits: personality type, perception, judgment and approach to an environment analyzes human’s behavior and personality. From this theory perspective, I tend to consider Gates to have introvert personality type not only because he couldn’t approach his classmates in the 8th grade and any time later and has never been sociable but also never expressing emotions apart from irritation, he seems emotionless (he married Melinda so, possibly he has some!). Even though he makes use of everything and anything that he has, which gives the impression of practicalness that may lead some to think he is sensing person. However, the fact that in 1975 he exchanged Harvard for his goal, having only plans, confidence, intuition, Paul Allen and 5,000$ only, makes us consider him to have intuitive perception. Not only this but several cases of Trey (his father calls him so because of the “III”) to invest into future technologies such as 1980s and 1990s investment in OS, 1990s investment in internet, 2000s investment in tablet PCs, investment companies, think-tank companies, nuclear reactor manufacturing also prove that he has the ability of intuitive foreseeing. Next, when Trey graduated the school he scored SAT 1590 out of 1600 and in his workplace he processes data coming from 2 monitors each having 4 parts showing different data, in addition, he himself designs his daily and long term plans and instructs his personal assistant twice a day. That all is the indication of strong analytical and structured thinking abilities, time management and decision making skills, making his judgment true thinking, approach to environment true judging.
If we look at Gates’ personality from another well known personality classification method – the big 5 model perspective then we notice the followings. In openness terms open-minded, creative intellectual – Gates with his readiness for challenges and expansion to different markets including banking and investments (Cascade Investments LLC), imaging and licensing services (Corbis), nuclear reactors (TerraPower) and many others fits explorer extreme by far more than the preserver part. Regarding the conscientiousness dimension, we already know that Trey is very much self-disciplined which puts him closer to the focused extreme. However, the best proof is that when Trey studied at the 6th grade he was at war with his mother due to which he was forced to attend the psychologist for more than 1 year after failing to change him, psychologist concluded “You’re going to lose. You had better just adjust to it because there’s no use trying to beat him (beat Trey).” This very conclusion is applicable to his whole life, this fact indicates that in agreeableness terms he is vivid challenger. When it comes to extroversion dimension, it is difficult to define him either introvert or extrovert since there are facts supporting both extremes. Despite of his sociability with anyone on the job related topics during meetings and presentations, from my point of view the absence of this ability in his daily and personal life outweighs the former, thus putting him closer to introvert side. Up to me, in emotional stability criterion of the big 5 model he is right the middle point, neither reactive nor resilient, because he is self-assured but anxious, other features of those model personality factors also do not describe him.
Now we know what might possibly give the mix of risk taker stubborn intrinsic explorer and poor self-monitoring willingness! Now let us observe what motivates this unique mix.
To start with we should accept that Trey always was and is intrinsically motivated person. This is seen from the fact that he always does what he wants to do because of interest or necessity of his own. For instance, during the school times he started learning programming and played with PC bugs which were not in the curricular and the motive was his own interest. Likewise, being head of Microsoft he smashed many competitors on desktop software developing, it is true that partially he pursued the corporation’s benefits but I am convinced that he treated this competition the same way as he did towards _____ that he played being a boy.
As a lot people did Gates also started his life from the belongingness stage of the Maslow’s hierarchy, but unlike the same majority he reached the very top of this pyramid – self-actualization point. Since he always was introvert, he didn’t demand affiliation. He always puts purposefulness and achievements higher than the rest. He is convinced that “the end justifies the means” thus practicing unethical business sometimes as with Sun Microsystems case. Having the information above McClelland’s theory would suggest that if at the dawn of his business he had need for achievement, later on this need turned into need for Power. In Trey’s case the need for affiliation always had the lower priority to the two other needs.
Although some may not see a leader in Gates, I am firmly convinced that he is the one and he is one of a kind. I do agree that he does not fit the standard leader image who we expect to be an orator with charisma and ability to convince and communicate. On the other hand Bill Gates is a person who controlled a company with about 78,000 workers for 33 years. He built a corporation that is richer than some countries! He fails to communicate effectively, especially with subordinates, never deals with others’ opinions and so on. However, he is pragmatic strategist with clear view of future, who brings big profits to people around and donates billions to community. Furthermore, he is highly goal oriented person, combination of which with those above makes others to follow him, after all not only charisma and affection make leaders but also achievements, character, purposefulness and some of a mystery too, make a good leader as well. “The personality of Bill Gates determines the culture of Microsoft,” says his intellectual sidekick Nathan Myhrvold. Indeed, during all 33 that he ruled the company and formulated the cultural climate of it by changing the approach toward surroundings several times that was successful as we now know. He is exactly the one described by “the great leader theory” who from more of a democratic and directive subordinate participation model in early years of Microsoft, moved to autocratic and directive model that covers the biggest part of the Gates era of the Microsoft. Finally, in recent years before he left his full-time job at Microsoft he experimented democratic and participative models. Being able to be idolized by his subordinates, inspiring and directing them, he can be regarded to as “new leader” in respect to organizational strategy and effectiveness part of the Frank Heller theory.
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In order to a better extend , we will have a look on what environments he has been in. During early years of Microsoft he was working in a group that was task, interest and friendship group types at the same time but not a command group. It is proven by the fact that at the start-up he worked with Paul Allen – his friend from Harvard who shared the same interest and they were task oriented and worked on several projects but they were not accountable to anyone as an administration, they themselves were administration for themselves. At that time maybe he was a good team player and I suppose the group was effective and well formed due to the mutual trust resulted from their friendship, motivation and common goals. However, as time went Gates’ attitude towards the group work, especially about subordinates, changed considerably to an unpleasant extend for subordinates. For example, there are evidences that he often interrupted presentations with such comments as, “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard!” and, “Why don’t you just give up your options and join the Peace Corps?”. When subordinates appeared to be procrastinating, he was known to remark sarcastically, “I’ll do it over the weekend.” This indicates that Gates lacks good listening and constructive criticism skills as well. Maybe this resulted from the fact that Gates always was on the top of the organizational hierarchy and the only people to whom he was ever accountable for were Board of directors of Microsoft. His great authority may lead to a groupthink.
In the book “Business @ the speed of thought” of Gates, that represents his own opinion, views and approaches to future business, it is clearly seen that Gates with his analytical thinking, tends to make decisions based on rational economic model. This model, as Trey does, includes several steps starting from problem or opportunity identification, search, evaluation and selection of alternatives. One of the first business decisions he made represents the rational economic model. When he got the agreement for trial OS for new IBM PC in 1980, he had nothing in his hands and that was an issue. He had clear view of the situation, thus immediately found a company that owned OS and after buying and customizing it to what IBM needed, he sold it to IBM. Quick, easy and profitable decision making!
To conclude I would like to say that although Mr. William Henry Gates III is a person who seems to be inadequate, not sociable and strange, he earned “person of success” title with his persistence, quick wit, purposefulness and foreseeing ability.
Hereby drawn is an anthill which I think has by far a lot more similarities with organizations than one might think. Especially, with that of an autocratic type which has one leader who makes strategic decisions that affect the firm’s performance most thus sets the firm’s future, similar to a queen ant that makes crucial decisions for colony such as where to move. There are departments in organization each busy with certain part of the common for whole firm goal accomplishment of which puts the firm closer to the result. The same is observed in an anthill where there is department-like job distribution. While ant-workers gather food for whole colony, guards protect it and nannies grow the next generation up. Similar to an autocratic management, job distribution and task allocation in anthill goes downwards. Thus next time when you pass by the anthill be more attentive and maybe you will notice more similarities than I did.
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