Ballmer on work ethic, leadership, and balance

Bits of advice from Steven Ballmer, the chief executive of Microsoft:

On work ethic:

Something that my dad always told me growing up, which is a simple piece of advice that really shaped my approach to life and to business.

My dad worked for Ford for 30 years. When I was a kid, he’d say: “If you’re going to do a job, do a job. If you’re not going to do a job, don’t do a job.” What he meant was, if you really want to accomplish anything, you have to be committed, motivated, tenacious and smart about what you do. That’s really just the essence of the American work ethic, but it’s one of the most important things I ever learned.

Lessons on leadership from growing from 30 employees to 90,000:

I’ve come to believe that to be a great leader, you have to combine thought leadership, business leadership and great people management. I think most people tend to focus more on one of those three. I used to think it was all about thought leadership. Some people think it’s all about your ability to manage people. But the truth is, great leaders have to have a mix of those things.

The most challenging part of his job:

Finding the right balance between optimism and realism. I’m an optimist by nature, and I start from the belief that you can always succeed if you have the right amount of focus combined with the right amount of hard work. So I can get frustrated when progress runs up against issues that should have been anticipated or that simply couldn’t have been foreseen. A realist knows that a certain amount of that is inevitable, but the optimist in me always struggles when progress doesn’t match my expectations.

Read the entire New York Times interview here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.