Lori Brownell our own General Manager of Windows Vista presented on the topic of “Leadership.”
As Lori mentions “ Leaders inspire followers, and they do so naturally.” Leaders keep disorder at bay and they realize the strength in others.
So what exactly makes a leader? Well the 4 top ingredients are:
Ø Vision – Well not really enough to have a vision and know where you are headed but also have the confidence to carry it through. It is the ability to really look past all the things that can go wrong and see what happens if things go right. Personally I think this is the best ingredient because if you are a manager, a VP or just a Individual contributor (IC is what we call them at Microsoft) you can still be a leader.
Ø Out of Box thinking – it is thinking creatively. She gave the example of Michael Dell working as a newspaper sales person thru High School and finding out which profile was most likely to buy the subscription and targeting them, hence becoming the top salesman. It is truly in paying close attention to what you do and how you take ownership of the tasks which have been give to you. This is another reason I enjoy Microsoft so much, because we are all empowered.
Ø Delegation – Another Michael Dell story about how everyone came to Michael the CEO with every problem, till Michael realized that is the type of organization he had setup. For those of us who have had managers who want to know about every little thing we do, we can relate. Lori’s point is to create an environment where innovation is what employees are rewarded on. Thought Microsoft has it’s pitfalls, this is something I truly love about my role. I have the chance to truly innovate and am empowered to do what I think is best. At times I succeed and at times I find things which I have to learn from, however at the end of the day I am a better person than when I started. That is what keeps me coming back day after day.
Ø Culture of Excellence – The GE example was what Lori spoke about here. How GE looked at ever department and found which was successful (best or second best in their section) and if they were not what would it take to get there. If that was not possible then the department died and perhaps a new one is born.
I truly enjoyed this talk and I have been to many Women in Technology talks. However I found this of the most value. As a woman in technology I look up to women such as Lori and hope to learn from such Giants and someday walk in the footsteps.