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Ballmer: "You need to be able to trust others and delegate"

“Of course I’ve had to develop my leadership style over the years.” Steve Ballmer looks back on just under 30 years in Microsoft management in a discussion with students from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

In 1980, his former fellow Harvard classmate Bill Gates was able to convince him to quit his studies "to sign on to this crazy, small software company," Ballmer remembers today with a laugh.

The reason for this decision? "I was at a point in my life where taking that step appeared to be the 100 percent correct thing to do," says Ballmer.

Of course the Microsoft of those days wasn't comparable to the international mega company of today. "They are two different worlds," emphasizes the 52 year-old.

What's crucial to Ballmer's management style today? "You have to be able to trust people and delegate." This sounds very demure coming from a management expert who is known for his extroverted appearances at company events and who subsequently has to walk around with the nickname "monkey boy."

Ballmer's work day is, according to him, less crazy: He works on business strategies and tries to get to know employees in key positions and lead them. This number amounts to "300 to 400." He calls it "talent maintenance."

If he could revise a decision as Microsoft boss? "We should have looked into Internet search engines sooner," he says. Microsoft has roughly ten percent of the market share in the area of search engine marketing and is trailing the market leaders Google and Yahoo significantly. "We also should have got going without a finished business model," says Ballmer.

View the entire video of the discussion with Steve Ballmer (60 min):

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