Monday, July 23, 2012

Bill Gates Research Paper

Bill Gates Research Paper

Executive summary 
The paper focuses on Bill Gates as one of the most successful leaders in the modern world. At the beginning the major reasons that brought him the great success are discussed. After that his personality and activities are analyzed in terms of strong and negative aspects of leadership. Basically, Bill Gates is defined as a strong leader possessing great enthusiasm and charisma that tends to unite people working with him, though he also possesses certain authoritarian traits, especially in relation to major competitors of his company.
 

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Introduction 
The role of leaders in the development of human society was traditionally extremely important. It is an undeniable fact that successful leaders contributed to the general progress of society even though not all of their actions were good. Nevertheless, regardless the actions of a leader, he/she stimulates his surrounding to certain actions or even counter-actions which inevitably lead the group or the entire society to progress. At the same time, it is necessary to underline that the notion of leadership is quite large and may be applied to different spheres though, in principle, the concept of leadership remains unchanged and does not really depends on the field where it is applied.

In other words, leaders are present in all fields, including not only politics, but also economy, science, technologies, culture, etc. Obviously, leadership is equally important to all spheres. This is why it is possible to speak about the significance and the role of a personality of leaders in history. Basically, this does not necessarily mean the interpretation of the role of a leader in terms of the world history, but it rather implies his/her significant to the epoch and his/her influence on the surrounding people. What is more important is the fact that leaders possess a great power to influence people, fully reveal their potential and realize their greatest dreams. This means that leaders can realize themselves but they can also stimulate other people to fully reveal their talents and realize their potential.

Obviously, nowadays, leadership is widely applied to the sphere of business and technologies. In fact, the role of business leaders as well as leaders in the domain of technologies, is of a paramount importance in the modern world because nowadays, the role of politics, for instance, seems to be not so important as it used to be in the past, while the role of business and advanced technologies has increased considerably. In fact, new technologies may be viewed as a major condition of a successful business as well as a guarantee of the political leadership of a country where these technologies are invented and widely implemented. This is why it is possible to estimate that the modern leader should be conscious of the importance of new technologies which can help him/her to improve his/her position in the leadership in a company or even politics.

At the same time, the most successful leaders combine the leadership in different domains such as technologies and business. In this respect, it is possible to name Bill Gates as one of the most successful leaders of the present epoch. In fact, Bill Gates managed to successfully combine his talent as a successful IT specialist with the qualities of a successful business leader. Nowadays, Bill Gates is considered to be one of the most successful people in the world. At the same time, if his success may be measured in financial terms, than, unquestionably, he is the most successful person because, according to the recent studies, his wealth constituted about $56 billion that is the largest fortune a businessman can have in the modern world. In such a situation, it is really important to carefully analyze his work and career as well as his personality, in order to clearly find out the major reasons that helped him to achieve such a tremendous success. At the same time, it is necessary to pay attention to the fact that along with a number of strengths of Bill Gates as a leader, he still has certain weaknesses that is quite natural since, as any other human, Bill Gates is also not a perfect or almighty being.

Reasons for success of Bill Gates
On analyzing the life and work of Bill Gates, it is necessary to point out that he has achieved really great results and he may be considered as a very successful person judging from his achievements in business and work. It is not a secret that he is one of the richest people in the world and, what is more, he is considered to be a guru of high technologies. To put it more precisely, his inventions and achievements in the field of IT made him a really successful person and, to a significant extent, it is due to his inventions he became such a famous and rich person.

In this respect, it should be said that Bill Gates is one of the most successful businessmen of the epoch of personal computers revolution. It should be said that his commercial success is based on his professional achievements as an IT specialist. It should be pointed out that he started his work at a very early age and it was one of the major conditions of his further success because due to his young age he managed to take risks at the domain where other more experienced businessmen were unwilling to invest money. Moreover, he combined his talent in the field of IT with traits of a successful businessman. At any rate, he managed to create a product and, what is more, he managed to fully benefit from this new product.

Speaking about his first successes which may be viewed as the basis for his future progress and leading position in the world market of IT and software, it is necessary to underline that Bill Gates began his career in personal computer software, programming computers at age of 13 (Bank 152). Obviously, this was not the age when other people started their work, especially in such a highly technological field. In fact, this early start became the basis of his further success which actually defined his entire career. To put it more precisely, a young boy could hardly choose any other way in his professional life since he actually did the job he liked very much and, what is more, he perfectly felt that he is very successful in this field. Moreover, it is necessary to underline that it was not just because of success of his programming and software that made him so eager in his work but it is also due to the fact that he was a great enthusiast that really enjoyed his work. Actually, the latter fact is probably the most important factor that determined his general success because it was really important for a young boy to find the way in his life, especially under pressure of his successful parents. It is worthy of mention that his father was a respectable attorney in Seattle and, naturally, he wanted his son to receive a good education. This is why Bill Gates’ study at the private Lakeside School in North Seattle was followed by study at Harvard. In all probability, the highly respectable educational establishment which Bill Gates attended produced certain impact on his personality but, in actuality, it seemed as if the boy was so gifted that he did not actually need that high education and the fact that he started work at the age of 13 perfectly proves that he was a person that outstripped his time in a way. This means that he was so developed that the study was not the major source of his success and his knowledge. Instead he rather relied on his profound interest to computers and new technologies, his experiments than on academic knowledge which simply could not supply Bill Gates with essential information or knowledge about computing. In stark contrast, it was Bill Gates who created new knowledge and actually made the history of personal computer software and IT.

In such a way, it is possible to estimate that Bill Gates basically relied on the innovative character of his work that was an important factor that contributed to his success and the positive achievements of the company he headed along with his partner Paul Allen, Microsoft. At the same time, it should be pointed out that Bill Gates could not found his own company at the very beginning of his professional career. Instead, he had to work for other companies and people before becoming an owner of his own company. In this respect, it should be said that specialists point out that “although Bill Gates is mostly known for his founding of Microsoft he also has done a number of programming jobs before becoming the world’s richest man” (Wallace 268). This fact is really important because while doing these jobs Bill Gates could have an excellent opportunity to practice and acquire essential experience in his work. To put it more precisely, this was an essential experience because it would be really dangerous to his own company if Bill Gates started experiments which were not based on any past experience in the company of his own. In actuality, this would be a great threat to his company and his future career because any serious failure would undermine his financial position and, what is more, the failure in his own company could deteriorate his public image as a successful and young leader of the company dealing with innovative technologies. On the other hand, as Bill Gates came to Microsoft well-prepared, he could fully realize his ideas and projects in practical life because he had already acquired certain experience and, as he founded his own company, he could act independently from others. Consequently, the combination of experience and innovations brought first successes to Bill Gates in his company. At the same time, it is necessary to underline that Bill Gates paid a lot of attention to innovations which contributed significantly to his successes. No wonder, he is considered to be one of the most progressive businessmen and IT specialists in the modern world.

Furthermore, it should be said that Bill Gates had chosen a really perspective direction in his professional career. In fact, he started his work at the dawn of the era of personal computers. At that epoch there were really few individuals that could foresee the perspectives of personal computers and development of computer software, while Bill Gates sincerely believed that the personal computer “would be a valuable tool on every office desktop and in every home” (Manes and Andrews 316). This is why he and his companion actually started to develop software for personal computers that brought them tremendous success. Obviously, this was quite a risky step because Bill Gates started to work in the new field but he turned to be conscious enough of the perspectives of computer and software industry that also determined his future successes because he managed to become among the leaders of this industry since he was the first, or at least, among the first people and businessmen who actively applied their knowledge to the development of personal computers and software. For instance, Bill Gates developed a version of the programming language BASIC for the first microcomputer – the MITS Altair.

However, it is necessary to underline that his gift in programming was just a half of his general success, though his leadership qualities had already become obvious as he started to develop new technologies. Another considerable part of his success was determined by his gift as a successful business leader. In this respect, it should be said that it was not enough to invent new software but it was also extremely important to successfully implement and sell it. This is exactly where the talent of Bill Gates as a successful businessman was revealed. It should be said that Bill Gates managed to organize a company, Microsoft, regardless his early age and, what is more, this company became an effective organization where he could realize his own ideas and where his products could be created and sold. Obviously, this was the project that could hardly be developed by an ordinary individual but only by a leader that ha certain charisma due to which Bill Gates united his friends and colleagues. In fact, it was Bill Gates who actually inspired his friends to work together in Microsoft. Even though this company was new his friends agreed to work in Microsoft that perfectly illustrated the talent of Bill Gates as a manager. In this respect, it should be said that all the employees of Microsoft were talented people who could easily find a good and perspective job in any other respectable company which position in the market were considerably better compared to that of Microsoft. Moreover, Bill Gates himself could also be successfully employed in one of the leading American companies.

However, he wanted to develop his own business, being independent from any other company. This is why he initiated the creation of Microsoft. Naturally, it is possible to understand his desire to be independent and develop a company where he could realize his ideas but, it is quite difficult to realize how his friends and partners agreed to participate in this project. In actuality, this apparently risky decision was taken under the impact of Bill Gates. It is due to his leadership qualities he managed to convince his friends to join his company and work together in Microsoft. This was really important because he really needed the support of reliable people whom he could trust because to realize the projects of Microsoft the entire team should be extremely enthusiastic and full of conscious of its future success and Bill Gates managed to inspire the team and make all its members to believe in the perfect future of the company.

At the same time, as the first success came, Bill Gates did not stop progressing, he did not sale his company, as many other gifted people did when they first significant success, instead he kept progressing and focused on the further development and promotion of his company. It is necessary to underline that again Bill Gates demonstrated his talent of a successful business leader. He was conscious of the fact that Microsoft operated in the innovative field and, in actuality, the company had a few competitors. Nevertheless, potentially there were serious threats to Microsoft leadership in the industry at the beginning. This is why it was really important to maintain the leading position of the company in the market in the situation when the competition was constantly growing.

Naturally, it was possible to develop new technologies which could put the company in the advantageous position compared to its major competitors and so Microsoft did but, in addition, Bill Gates managed to achieve practically the monopolistic position of Microsoft in the market. In actuality, even nowadays, the company is the unquestionable leader of the industry while its competitors are so weak that they remain in the shadow of Microsoft which operates worldwide and which products are the most popular in the world market of software products.

Nowadays, Bill Gates does not seem to give up. Even though there is a growing opposition from the part of competitors and national government throughout the world, Microsoft still remains the world leader in its segment of the market and, what is more, the company tends to diversification of products offered to its customers (Edstrom and Eller 402). Naturally, the role of Bill Gates in this process is still very important because it is him who keeps the company pushing in the world market and it is due to his leadership qualities he manages to work the multinational company as a solid and united organization the work of all units of which is coordinated.

Strengths of Bill Gates as a leader 
The development of the professional career of Bill Gates proves the fact that he was a successful and strong leader. First of all, it should be said that he started his career at the very early age. This is why it is possible to estimate that he was focused on his work from the beginning of his career. To put it more precisely, it should be said that professional growth was actually not the major goal of his life but it is rather his career constituted a natural part of his life. This means that career was secondary to Bill Gates but his ideas he wanted to realize were prior to his professional success and this may be viewed as strength of this leader.

In this respect, it should be said that his enthusiasm and interest to personal computers and software was that ideological basis that helped him to unite his friends and create Microsoft. At the same time, it is obvious that he played the leading role in this new organization even though his partners and colleagues were also quite gifted people. However, they were basically gifted ‘technologically’. This means they were really successful in programming and developing software but they could hardly be viewed as successful leaders or businessmen. In stark contrast, Bill Gates was that person that had the idea that made all these people work together in one company. It should be said that Bill Gates was the leader that invented the idea and spread it throughout his team.

In fact, it is hardly possible to estimate that Bill Gates was in an advantageous position compared to his patterns in Microsoft at first years of functioning of the company. As it has already been mentioned above, Microsoft in first years of its existence was a team of talented enthusiasts which worked in the innovative industry. This is why the role of Bill Gates can hardly be underestimated because he possessed that power, that charisma that helped him convince all those who joined him in Microsoft that this company would have success. However, he started to demonstrate his strengths as a leader even at the earlier age as he started to work on programming at the age of 13 while he had been attending a school. It should be said that he demonstrated his ability to resist to his surrounding and he would never give up to circumstances. Practically, this means that, being a young boy, he could be easily influenced by his parents, teachers, peers, and other people that surrounded Bill Gates at that epoch. Nevertheless, Bill Gates paid little attention to his environment and acted according to his internal inclinations. This characteristic of him indicates to the fact that Bill Gates was a really independent person that perfectly realized what he actually wanted to achieve and, what is even more, he made the best he could to achieve his purposes.

At the same time, it is also important to underline that Bill Gates was able to foresee the further development of technologies and business. This is why he was always so successful in his inventions and business. To put it more precisely, he always worked in the field which was closely related to the implementation of new technologies. It is worthy of reminding that personal computers and software were quite innovative concepts for 1960-1970s. Nevertheless, Bill Gates was convinced in the great perspectives computing and software had in the future. This is why he was so concerned about the development of software and, in such a situation, his decision to drop out of Harvard to create his own company seems to be quite natural.

This step actually demonstrates the extent to which Bill Gates was sure in his own actions and in perspectives of the industry he worked in. It was the decision that only a strong personality, a leader could take because he actually ruined all stereotypes concerning the traditional way of the career growth and professional development. Traditionally, it is believed that it is necessary to receive a higher education before starting a professional career, while Bill Gates easily rejected this biased view and, instead, decided to focus on the work he really liked. He gave up studying when he realized that he would have a chance to realize himself and his potential in his professional work. His early efforts in programming eventually led him to the idea that he needed to create the company of his own where he could fulfill all his plans and ideas.

On the other hand, his decision to create his own company, even though he had not received a higher education yet, demonstrates the extent to which Bill Gates was ready to take risky decisions. Obviously, the failure of Microsoft was quite probable, taking into consideration the early age of its founders and the team working within the company. Consequently, Bill Gates should be a really brave leader to create Microsoft. In this respect, it is necessary to underline that he was a real leader because it was him that convinced Paul Allen and other people who joined him in Microsoft because it was a really difficult decision to take. In fact, it would be quite logical that Paul Allen and all the rest of Microsoft team simply rejected the proposition of Bill Gates to create the new company since they had good perspectives and could be easily employed in any other company (Lowe 192). This is where Bill Gates’ charisma and leadership qualities came into play. He managed to convince his partners in the great perspectives they could have in Microsoft, though this was quite difficult to do because Microsoft was operating in the new field and this industry was still underdeveloped at that epoch. This may be viewed as another evidence of Bill Gates’ ability to take risky decision.

At the same time, the creation of Microsoft may be viewed as a proof of Bill Gates’ ability to unite and inspire surrounding people working with him. In this respect, it should be said that Bill Gates turned to be a person that was able to overcome standard way of thinking and view the world in a different way. What is meant here is the fact that Bill Gates realized the great perspective of the company he wanted to create and he convinced his friends that this company could be really successful. It should be said that his enthusiasm and sincere belief in his success played an important role in the choice his friends made while taking decision to join Bill Gates in Microsoft. His enthusiasm may be viewed as another strength of this leader because it helped encourage and inspire his surrounding to keep moving ahead regardless obvious difficulties that sprang everywhere on the way of Microsoft on its way to the world recognition (Wallace and Erickson 243). It is worthy of mention that Bill Gates’ enthusiasm was a very significant moral stimulus to his colleagues because it helped them neglect the objective difficulties, which they might and which they actually faced, and continue their work.

It is also important to underline that Bill Gates was a really talented person that also helped him be a strong leader. In fact, since a very early age, he had demonstrated that he was a genius individual. It was practically improbably that a teenager could work on programming computers and was also quite difficult to believe that a man that had not got a higher education would have been able to run a company operating in the new industry of persona computers and software. However, due to his talent and leadership qualities Bill Gates managed to change the stereotypes and proved that he could achieve great results regardless the presumable lack of education, experience, etc. It should be said that his talent was the source of his inspiration and his ideas because he managed to achieve positive results at a very early age due to his own inventions. Consequently, he was sincerely convinced in his ability to successfully implement his ideas in his own company and, what is more, he shared his conviction with the rest of Microsoft team.

In his later life, Bill Gates revealed other leadership qualities which were really helpful in his work as a head of Microsoft and simply a successful businessman. In this respect, it is worthy of mention the fact that Bill Gates constantly attempts to develop good relationships with all employees working in his company. To put it more precisely, regardless his high social position and enormous fortune, he still attempts to be just a member of the team annihilating the distance that could possible exist between him and his employees. For instance, it is not a secret that “even with all that money Bill drives himself to work in an average family car and he even flies coach” (Rivlin 158). This interesting fact may be viewed as evidence of his attempt to be a really democratic and liberal leader which seems to be just a guy living next-door to an average employee and not a miraculously rich businessman living in one of the most expansive houses in the world (Rivlin 159). This may be viewed as strength of Bill Gates as a leader because it contributes to his positive public image and makes his employees as well as other people convinced that Bill Gates is just the right man who can lead the company in the right way and who can really understand his employees, their needs and interests. Naturally, this contributes to the formation of the positive atmosphere within the company.

At the same time, one of the most important strengths of Bill Gates as a leader is his constant focus on the further progress. In actuality, he never stops in the progress of his company and he constantly demands that Microsoft developed more and more advanced technologies. No wonder, he views the improvement of the existing software technologies as one of the strategic directions of the further development of the company (Wallace 295). In this respect, it is worthy of mention that with the development of Internet, Bill Gates have managed to redirect the development of his company in this direction. To put it more precisely, in his work “The Road Ahead” Bill Gates (1999) points out that interactive network are a major milestone in human communication (269). In such a way, on strategically redeploying Microsoft to take advantage of the emerging opportunities created by Internet, Bill Gates proved that he is still able to successfully implement innovations and is ready to take risks. At the same time, this also proves his ability to react immediately on the changes that take place in the market and adapt the work of the company to the changing market situation.

Weaknesses of Bill Gates as a leader 
Naturally, judging from the achievements and rapid progress of Bill Gates company, it is possible to estimate that it is a perfect leader. However, as any other human, Bill Gates has his own weaknesses which are probably overshadowed by his genius and successes but still they may be found in his work. On the other hand, it is necessary to underline that weaknesses are typical to all people but only a strong leaders like Bill Gates can minimize their negative effects on their life and work. Speaking about his weaknesses, it is possible to point out that Bill Gates readiness to take risk is not only an advantage but, under certain circumstance, it may be viewed as a weakness. To put it more precisely, it should be said that, at the beginning of his career, for instance, his decision to create Microsoft basically relied on his subjective forecasts, which though turned to be right, but, in actuality, they were not based on a profound market analysis and research.

Furthermore, it should be said that Microsoft constantly operated in computer and software industry without any serious attempts to enter new industries and develop alternative directions of the further progress of the company. Even though it is possible to argue that the current position of the company is quite stable and the progress Microsoft has made throughout its history is really great but still there are certain risks that can potentially deteriorate the position of the company in its traditional segment of the market. In such a situation, it would be quite useful to focus on alternative ways of the development of the company but Bill Gates seems to be satisfied with the current position of Microsoft.

The presence of risks to Microsoft seems to be hardly probable but still there exists certain threats. It should be said that regardless democratic and liberal approaches Bill Gates uses in his company, in relation to Microsoft position in the world market he demonstrates that he is quite an authoritarian leader. What is meant here is the strong trend of Microsoft to the monopolization of the market. This means that Bill Gates, being conscious of the advantages of his company, does not want to weaken its position but, instead, wants to fully control the world market. Naturally, this may be viewed as an advantage of Bill Gates as an owner of Microsoft but, in actuality, this advantage may turn into weakness if the anti-trust law is applied to the company. In fact, the company has already been attacked for the violation of anti-trust laws though the position of the company did not deteriorate dramatically it is still possible to presuppose that further efforts from the part of states and competitors to undermine the dominant position of Microsoft can lead to disastrous results. Moreover, this trend to monopolization of the market inevitably deteriorates the quality of services and products of Microsoft that undermines the customers’ positive attitude to the brand, but Bill Gates does not seem to be fully conscious of such a threat and being the leader of the company continues this policy.

Also it should be said that Bill Gates seems to be a too important figure in Microsoft to the extent that it is hardly possible to forecast its further development after his retirement. To put it more precisely, even nowadays, Bill Gates take an active part in the development of new software and new products of the company. He pays a lot of attention to strategic development of the company and plays the main role in taking management and strategic decisions in the company. Even though such a position is quite natural to the leader and head of the company but still it is possible to presuppose that Microsoft was and still remains totally a ‘product’ of Bill Gates’ genius, which position can be deteriorated dramatically as soon as its leader gives up his work.

Ethical aspects of Bill Gates leadership
Another important question that arises while analyzing Bill Gates leadership is the ethical question. In this respect, it should be pointed out that it is hardly possible to objectively evaluate the ethical aspect of the leadership of Bill Gates because often business and ethics are concepts that cannot be viewed in a combination. This means that business is not always ethical and this is normal since, otherwise, ethics would dominate over business that could be ruinous to business.

In this respect, it is possible to refer to the example of Microsoft and its position in the market as an example of the split between business and ethics. To put it more precisely, as it has been just mentioned above, Microsoft is in a practically monopolistic position in the market. This means that the competitors of Microsoft are practically deprived of an opportunity to compete fairly with Microsoft and gain a larger share of the market. In stark contrast, Microsoft practically prevents any opportunity to enter its segment of the market and gain a larger share of the market. Obviously, such a policy does not meet the ethical, and even legal, question of fair competition but still, this policy proves to be effective and Microsoft, headed by Bill Gates, does not intend to change its policy. At the same time, it is necessary to remember about customers. From the ethical point of view, it seems to be quite arguable that it is ethically justified to impose its products and services to customers as Microsoft does. Nevertheless, Bill Gates attempts to hide this unethical policy under the pretext that the products of Microsoft are the best and it is actually the customers’ conscious choice but not the will of Microsoft.

However, it is necessary to remember that the attitude of Bill Gates to his employees seem to be ethically justified. In this respect, it should be said that the major criteria that define the success of an employee in the company is his/her own abilities, skills, and knowledge. In this respect, it is worthy of mention that Bill Gates estimate that “if you are intelligent and know how to apply your intelligence you can accomplish anything” (Bank 238). In such a situation, the efforts of Bill Gates to be closer to his employees in his ascetic style making him similar to ordinary employees, which has been already mentioned above, seems to be quite logical and ethically justified since it demonstrates that Bill Gates shares the same values as his employees and that the entire team working within Microsoft is really united.

Conclusion 
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that Bill Gates is a successful leader that perfectly demonstrated his ability to fully realize his potential and, what is more, stimulate other people to join him in his innovative work. It is necessary to underline that Bill Gates may be viewed not only a successful businessman but rather as a leader having a number of strong qualities. To put it more precisely, he managed to use his talent as an IT specialist in computer programming and developing new software. Moreover, due to his enthusiasm and leader’s charisma he managed to convince his collaborators at the beginning of his career to join him and create Microsoft which later became one of the most successful and commercially profitable companies in the world. He also proved that a good and successful leader has to be able to forecast the future development as Bill Gates did in software and computing field. At the same time, it is important to underline that it was not an occasional insight but rather a trend typical to this strong leader because later he repeatedly demonstrate his ability to constantly implement innovations and adapt the company to changing market situation, as it was in the epoch when Internet had just appeared forcing Microsoft to redeployment. On the other hand, Bill Gates is quite a contradictive leader because he tends to be quite democratic and liberal within the company but in his relations with the major competitors and the world market expansion he is quite an authoritarian person. Such attitude probably affects customers as well who have a little choice but Microsoft products. Nevertheless, the position of Microsoft, headed by Bill Gates, remains to be quite strong.
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