Sunday, May 17, 2009

Steven Ballmer is Not a Good Listener


This past year I have thought about how products can take on the personality of their leadership. That thought came back to mind this morning as I read an interview with Steve Ballmer from Microsoft in the New York Times. The first question he answers is if there are areas that he needs to improve as a leader:

I race too much. My brain races too much, so even if I’ve listened to everything somebody said, unless you show that you’ve digested it, people don’t think they are being well heard. Sometimes you really don’t hear because you’re racing. It’s just the way my brain works. My brain is just chop, chop, chop, chop, chop. And so, if you really want to get the best out of people, you have to really hear them and they have to feel like they’ve been really heard. So I’ve got to learn to slow down and improve in that dimension, both to make me better and to make the people around me better.

His response is interesting because not only does he know that he's not a good listener, he knows that even when he tries to listen it doesn't work. If Microsoft truly were only about developers, developers, developers then this wouldn't be such a big deal to me. Unfortunately, Microsoft's products seem as if they don't listen to us. The good thing is that he values listening. I hope he values it enough to put people in places of leadership that are great listeners that build products mindful of what people are saying to them.

Direct Link to Developers, Devlopers, Developers video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8To-6VIJZRE

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