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Transformational Leadership

Businessdictionary.com defines transformational leadership as a “style of leadership in which the leader identifies the needed change, creates a vision to guide the change through inspiration, and executes the change with the commitment of members of the group” (Transformational Leadership, n.d.). In 1983, Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner of Santa Clara University started researching thousands of personal best leadership experiences. Their research included 75,000 people from all over the world. They used this research to develop their Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership Model. This transformational leadership model consists of these five elements: Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act, and Encourage the Heart. Bill Gates’s leadership at Microsoft not only transformed the computer industry, it also transformed the business world. Table 2-2 demonstrates Gates’s exemplary transformational leadership impact based on Kouzes and Posner’s model (Kouzes and Posner, 2010).

Table 2-2 Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership Model

Element

Description

Gates’s Behavior

Model the Way

The leader is clear about his/her values and philosophy, setting a positive example.

Bill Gates was an expert programmer. He worked long hours and rarely took vacations. He expected his employees to show the same commitment.

Inspire a

Shared

Vision

The leader creates a compelling vision that drives people’s behavior to achieve the goals.

Microsoft employees were inspired by Gates’ s vision of ruling the microcomputer software world.

Challenge

the

Process

The leader is willing to change the status quo and take risks, stepping out into the unknown as pioneer.

No other company shared Gates’ s vision for writing software for inexpensive microcomputers. Ken Olsen, the president of Digital Equipment Corporation, a company Gates admired, thought the notion that people would want to have a computer was “silly” (Academy of Achievement 2002).

Enable Others to Act

The leader is effective at working with people. The leader values teamwork and collaboration.

Although Gates has a tough and challenging management style, his employees respected him and were compelled to follow his leadership.

Encourage the Heart

The leader recognizes and rewards team members for their contributions and accomplishments toward achieving the vision.

Bill Gates rewarded his employees with excellent pay and recognition. Many Microsoft employees became millionaires during their tenure with the company.

Data derived from Northouse (2007). Leadership: Theory and Practice. London, UK: Sage.

Bill Gates was an effective communicator who kept his employees motivated. He invested in their future and made many of them wealthy. He delivered the right information to the right people for the right purpose. “The vision is really about empowering workers,” Gates said, “giving them all of the information about what’s going on so they can do a lot more than they’ve done in the past” (Chandomba, 2014).

 
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