According to writer Chris Matyszczyk, Microsoft was a nasty company in the past. Externally, it bullied businesses into buying its software, and internally, employees would ceaselessly work against each other to get ahead.
That’s why Matyszczyk was happy to hear Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella — who has tried to restore a more civilized environment to the company — say he wants to fight against self-satisfaction in his employees.
Specifically, when Nadella was asked by Bloomberg Businessweek how he felt about the company being valued at $1 trillion, he said: “I would be disgusted if somebody ever celebrated our market cap.”
With that one sentence, Nadella showed that he doesn’t want employees to become smug and that he wants to focus on the future.
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These are times of excess. Times when the young and predominantly male tech founders have encountered untold riches, despite untold legal and moral dubiousness.
We used to hold them up as great examples. Now we worry about what they’ve done to modern society. We desperately seek examples of great tech leaders whom we can respect, as well as envy.
I found myself almost teary-eyed, therefore, to learn of extremely wise words uttered by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
Once, Microsoft was a nasty company. Externally, it bullied businesses into buying its software. But internally, employees would ceaselessly machinate against each other with heartless glee.
Nadella has tried to bring a little civilization to the place. So when he was asked by Bloomberg Businessweek how he felt about the company being valued at $1 trillion, he said: “I would be disgusted if somebody ever celebrated our market cap.”
I do like it when a mature leader manages to be disgusted by something. Nadella said if any employee truly started to hoot over this alleged milestone, it would be “the beginning of the end.” In essence, he wants to fight against self-satisfaction.
He fears employees will become smug. He wants to focus on the future. There is, though, another, more important undercurrent here, one that perhaps Nadella didn’t intend.
A company — even a huge one like Microsoft — is only its people. If they place such extreme value on a number, what value do they place on other essences such as humanity, empathy, and joy? What moves them to go to work and create, build and surprise?
Setting the tone for those priorities should come from the very top. Indeed, Nadella’s manner — calm and reasoned — is the opposite of what came before at Microsoft. It takes account, at least a little. of human feelings.
So when you reach a big number, if you’re going to celebrate at all, celebrate the people who got you this far for a brief moment. Then, go back to work. That’s surely a more modern leadership approach.
A few years ago, I remember reading this headline:
Apple is now worth more than Poland
This interfered with my digestion. And not just because both my parents were Polish.
If you really believe a corporation can be worth more than a country, more than so much culture, history, passion and so many fundamental human relationships, it’s time to reset your values.
It’s time to reconsider why you’re alive and what makes you truly happy.