Microsoft’s New CEO Satya Nadella Talks About His Relation with Steve Ballmer, Bill Gates

Nadella provided more information on this collaboration with the two in a new interview

By on February 21st, 2014 14:57 GMT

Microsoft finally has a new CEO in the person of Satya Nadella, the one who has been with the company for nearly 22 years and was in charge of Redmond’s cloud business in the last few years.

In an interview with New York Times, Nadella explained that Steve Ballmer taught him very important things while he was a CEO, while the collaboration with Bill Gates is expected to lead to some very exciting projects for Microsoft.

Asked what leadership lessons he received from Steve Ballmer, Nadella explained that he learned from the former CEO that being “brutally honest with yourself” is one important thing for everyone.

“The most important one I learned from Steve happened two or three annual reviews ago. I sat down with him, and I remember asking him: ‘What do you think? How am I doing?’ Then he said: ‘Look, you will know it, I will know it, and it will be in the air. So you don’t have to ask me, ‘How am I doing?’ At your level, it’s going to be fairly implicit,” he said.

“I went on to ask him, ‘How do I compare to the people who had my role before me?’ And Steve said: ‘Who cares? The context is so different. The only thing that matters to me is what you do with the cards you’ve been dealt now. I want you to stay focused on that, versus trying to do this comparative benchmark.’ The lesson was that you have to stay grounded, and to be brutally honest with yourself on where you stand.”

As for the collaboration with Bill Gates, Microsoft’s co-founder and now advisor, Satya Nadella explained that Gates has always been close to the company, but he’ll now take on a more active role.

“We’ve worked closely for about nine years now. So I’m very comfortable with this, and I asked for a real allocation of his time,” he said. “One of the fantastic things that only Bill can do inside this campus is to get everybody energized to bring their ‘A’ game. It’s just a gift.”

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