Steve Ballmer’s Microsoft

This article from Fortune presents a good look at Steve Ballmer. He is a good leader in his own right, but is often overshadowed by Gates.

Steve Ballmer is a man whose reputation exceeds him. Barrel-chested and bombastic, he's always been the quintessential, larger-than-life, rah-rah leader, and the perfect foil for his geeky and erudite best buddy, Bill Gates. Stories abound of his over-the-top antics rallying Microsoft's troops at corporate events: There was the infamous Monkey-Boy dance he performed at a sales meeting a few years ago, which prompted dozens of incredulous Microsoft bashers to post choppy videoclips of his cavortings on the web; or the surgery he endured to repair blown-out vocal cords resulting from a bout of unrestrained cheerleading; or the outlandish hula-girl and used-car-salesman costumes he gleefully donned to get a laugh and make a point. On the Microsoft campus, you can always tell he's approaching by his sharp, punctuating claps as he barks orders to a subordinate trailing behind. And he's the first to admit that in his case, "table pounder" is literally apt.

Ballmer has begun to put his mark on Microsoft. What does he hope for next?

To put it simply, his job is to refashion Microsoft into a rocket that can reach that moon. Gates hopes Ballmer's rabid team spirit combined with his fixation on imposing order will enable the 55,000-person company to "scale up." Says Ballmer: "We need a new framework to make what is now a very large organization greater than the sum of its parts." Echoing the thought, Gates says the organizational challenge is "getting the IQs to add up, and having no subtraction." He adds wryly, "You know, we're paying for all that IQ." Listening to that remark, it's not hard to imagine that the heat on Ballmer isn't just from free software and IBM.

He has ambitious goals for a company many think is plagued by complacency. Can Microsoft transform into the leader it wants to be? If so they will be writing books about Ballmer for years to come.

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