On Friday Bill Gates makes another transition in his leadership at Microsoft. It would be a mistake to say that he is leaving Microsoft. Rather he is shifting his responsibilities around and the kind of leadership he gives to Microsoft. It seems he will give more time to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and their philanthropic work.
I am sure that the leadership books will soon be full of commentary and consideration of the many leadership lessons to be learned from Gates and the last 30 years with Microsoft. But the story is not finished yet. I believe that the same determination and skills will be applied in the Gates Foundation. Scientific American provides a quote on the type of innovative and risk-taking leadership Bill Gates offers.
“Bill Gates is the quintessential risk taker,” says Joshua Schuler, executive director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lemelson–M.I.T. Program, a nonprofit organization that awards hundreds of thousands of dollars to inventors annually. “He understands that innovation is all about taking risks and being okay with the prospect of failure.”
Under Gates’ leadership Microsoft succeeded far more than it failed, transforming the computer from simply a number-crunching calculator into a platform for mass communication. This has proved to be essential to subsequent generations of entrepreneurs. “How many calculations for business plans have been created using Microsoft software?” Schuler asks. “Anyone has the capacity to be inventive, and Bill Gates and Microsoft created tools that are used to build, test and convey those ideas.”
The abilities to innovate, communicate, persist, and transition through many many seasons of change of been hallmarks of Gates leadership. In the next transition I wonder if we will celebrate and watch what will be a different type of significant and utterly necessary leadership with as much enthusiasm as we have watched the last 30 years. I wonder, in the wealth saturated lands where computers have become common-place what new philanthropic innovations will Gates develop to more effectively create opportunity with the desperately under-resourced people’s of our planet?