Microsoft CEO Nadella describes the empathetic leadership he hopes will spark a renaissance at the software giant in “the coming era of ubiquitous computing and ambient intelligence.”
Three years ago, when he succeeded Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, the author found the once-dominant software company was “sick” and its employees “disheartened” after a period of stalled growth. The world, once PC–centric, had given rise to mobile and cloud technologies, and Microsoft lagged behind others. In this thoughtful debut, the Indian-born Nadella tells the story of his personal life and his work as a change-making leader, and he explains the coming importance of machine intelligence. The author emerges as a modest, likable individual from an accomplished family; his mother, a Sanskrit scholar, taught him the importance of balance, and his economist father the value of intellect. Arriving in the United States just before the 1990s tech boom, he earned a computer science degree at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and a master’s degree at the University of Chicago; he joined Microsoft in 1992. He writes with candor about his challenges as CEO: “hierarchy and pecking order” reigned at the fiefdom-ridden company, stifling spontaneity and creativity. His response has been to listen with empathy to employee concerns and to help build and curate a new, open culture that empowers staffers to act on their passions and “make a real difference” in a “mobile-first, cloud-first world” in which 3 billion people will soon be connected to the internet, sensors, and the internet of things. To achieve that culture, the company “must exercise a growth mindset by being customer-obsessed, diverse, and inclusive and act as One Microsoft.” His book includes descriptions of experimental retreats, “hacks” meant to fire passions, and leadership principles and other tips.
A valuable blueprint for techies and others in a culture-change state of mind.