Not too long ago, Steve Ballmer stepped down as CEO of Microsoft, a company that is synonymous with innovation. Under Ballmer’s tutelage, however, the company has done less than stellar. Here, we will look at the issues in Steve Ballmer’s leadership style while at Microsoft. We will also look at the few things that Ballmer did right that you can learn from, too. Lastly, we will have a few takeaway lessons from Ballmer’s whole tenure as Microsoft CEO.
Issues in Leadership Style
Many have critiqued Ballmer’s leadership style while at Microsoft. A lot say that Microsoft, under his leadership, seemed to get comfortable in their niche. Even when there were obvious threats to the underlying Microsoft business model, such as tablets, smartphones, and mobile music players, Ballmer ignored them. During his time at Microsoft, innovation fell by the wayside. Not only that, but his employees did not care too much for him, either (his approval rating was 46%). Ballmer also had issues with giving successful presentations, even to the industry. Others also criticized Ballmer for not better managing his internal leadership pipeline to provide a great CEO to Microsoft after his leaving.
What Ballmer Did Right
There is one real success that we can point to on Ballmer’s record: the Xbox. Xbox has become a powerhouse of gaming. One of the reasons that Xbox was so very successful was because Ballmer thought beyond the box when it came to the marketing of this gaming console. Partly because of Xbox, people now expect more out of consoles than just being able to play their favorite titles. Instead, they expect to be able to stream media, watch movies and TV, listen to music, and connect with friends, all using the same exact device. This is one thing Ballmer got right.
What We Can Learn
So what can we learn from Ballmer’s leadership style? One of the things that hindered Ballmer so much was adhering to an old, outdated model of business. Instead, he should have been more forward thinking, as the Xbox project was. Ballmer should have learned from his employees, as well as other industry leaders. In this way he could have improved his approval rating, his pool of ideas, as well as the public’s perception of himself and his products. Hopefully, the next CEO of Microsoft will learn from Ballmer’s mistakes, as well as his single success.