With the retirement of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer looming, now is an appropriate time to reflect on great leaders in the tech industry, past and present, and their communication styles. Leading a tech company is a unique challenge– the industry moves incredibly quickly, and talent recruitment is highly competitive. Throughout it all the tech leader must be communicating constantly with internal and external stakeholders.
Let’s take a look at the communication styles of various tech leaders:
• Steve Jobs, the dreamer: Steve Jobs led through both intimidation and inspiration, sharing his vision not only for the way people interact with computers and technology but also for how they lead their lives. His passion for the company and products and marketing and product design genius have become legendary. It’s clear that employees respected and admired him, as did his many customers worldwide—and they have made Apple the largest tech company in the world.
• Steve Ballmer, the salesman: Steve Ballmer has a very direct communication style. In July 2013, Steve Ballmer shared his strategy for the multibillion-dollar company: “Going forward, our strategy will focus on creating a family of devices and services for individuals and businesses that empowers people around the globe at home, at work and on the go, for the activities they value most.” Boisterous and enthusiastic, he has a communication style that differs dramatically from that of his predecessor.
• Marissa Mayer, the efficiency expert: Marisa Mayer has been tasked with righting the ship at Yahoo and has shown that she can identify issues and dial up bold, corrective game plans. With her ability to persuade and motivate, she has contributed to reestablishing Yahoo as a viable tech player. She has a track record of connecting engineers with innovative thinkers, and this can result in products that are both technical and creative.
Clearly there’s a lot of variety when it comes to effectively communicating when you are leading a large technology company. Ultimately, communication styles are situational—behaviors and leadership patterns will vary depending on circumstances. How then should we define a winning communication style? Is there a clear vision the team believes in and is excited to share? Do team members respond favorably to communication efforts made internally, to stakeholders and to customers?
Regardless, communication styles are also personality-driven, as exemplified by CEOs like Benioff, Ellison, Chambers and Whitman.
Who do you think is the best communicator in tech? Leave your comment below.
By Denise Persson. Chief Marketing Officer for ON24, Denise is responsible for the company’s strategic and tactical marketing efforts. Persson’s experience includes a variety of marketing management and product management positions. Connect with Denise via LinkedIn.
Reflecting on Great Tech Leaders and Their Communication Styles
Posted by ON24 CMO, Denise Persson ( Business 2 Community, 12/20/13 )