Jacob Morgan
Published in

Jacob Morgan

3 Ways the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, Puts People First

A lot has been said about Satya Nadella’s turnaround of Microsoft, transforming it from a company many people viewed as outdated to one of the most valuable companies in the world with a strong culture. It could be the employee perks, new technology, or new customers, but what it really comes down to is this: Satya puts his people first. As I spoke with top CEOs from around the world for my new book, The Future Leader, Satya Nadella’s name constantly came up as a leader these CEOs admire. And for good reason: Satya is humble and people-focused and has a staggering 98% approval rating. By putting people first, he led an amazing turnaround at Microsoft and continues to guide it towards the future.

Here are three ways Satya Nadella puts his people first:

1. Creates a clear vision.

Satya believes one of his main responsibilities is to create a clear, tangible, and inspiring message to move employees forward. He regularly communicates with all of Microsoft’s 156,000 employees around the world to share his transparent plans for the company’s future and invites their feedback. It’s not unusual for Satya to send a company-wide email with real ideas for the future, not just corporate fluff. He trusts his employees and regularly communicates a clear vision that he motivates them to follow.

2. Embraces the growth mindset.

Satya is known for embodying the growth mindset — the idea that challenges are opportunities and people can grow, change, and develop new skills. He encourages employees throughout Microsoft to embrace “learn-it-all” curiosity and experiment with passion projects and innovative ideas. When mistakes happen, Satya uses a gentle, empathetic approach to encourage employees to re-work their designs and try again. He’s been known to take the fall for employees’ mistakes to give them a chance to learn, grow, and re-tool their ideas.

Leadership is changing. What are the skills and mindsets you need to master in order to lead in the new world of work? According to over 140 of the world’s top CEOs there are 4 mindsets and 5 skills that leaders need to master. Learn what they are and hear directly from these leaders by downloading the PDF below.


3. Showcases employee success.

Satya begins his weekly senior leadership team meetings with a segment he calls “Researcher of the Amazing” that showcases employee success from around the world. On many occasions, employee teams join the meeting via video to demonstrate their developments and inspire the leadership team. Instead of putting himself first, Satya steps aside to share his employees’ successes as a way to inspire the rest of the company before they jump into hard numbers.

Leading a big company doesn’t have to come with a big ego — in fact, a big ego can be detrimental to the success of the company. Satya Nadella shows that even the leader of a huge tech company can — and should — put people first. Taking an empathetic and gentle approach to value each employee and encourage them to be and do their best drives a culture of innovation and collaboration at Microsoft, which has been a huge reason for the company’s turnaround since Nadella took the helm.

I hope you can implement some ideas from Satya’s leadership style in your own organization to put people first.

If you enjoyed the article and want more content like this here’s what you can do:


1. Subscribe to The Future of Work Podcast where I interview business leaders around the world each week.

2. Grab a copy of The Future Leader which has been endorsed by the CEOs of MasterCard, Best Buy, Oracle, Audi, Unilever, Domino’s Pizza, Ritz Carlton, Kaiser, and Marshall Goldsmith. It explores the most essential skills and mindsets for future leaders.

3. If you are or want to be an entrepreneur then my wife and I just launched a brand new podcast on how to Be Your Own Boss, called the BYOB Podcast where we share what we did and how we did it. You can subscribe to that here.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Jacob Morgan

Jacob Morgan

4x Best-Selling Author, Speaker, & Futurist. Founder of FutureOfWorkUniversity.com. Exploring Leadership, Employee Experience, & The Future of Work