Ballmer’s departure is a leadership failure

By David Phillips

Steve Ballmer

Steve Ballmer / Getty

Late last week, it was revealed that after more than a decade as the head of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer would be stepping down within the next year. Over at Three Star Leadership, Wally Block has put together a few comments from other sources regarding Ballmer’s departure, and I wanted to add mine to the mix.

Ballmer’s resignation at this point in time is a failure of leadership. Barring extenuating circumstances, or a private matter, Ballmer did a disservice to the company he gave his life to and the employees he led. Here’s why:

Steve Ballmer put the company and its employees in a state of limbo.

Had Ballmer wanted to retire or resign, he should have done it before he stood in front of the media and announced Microsoft’s reorganization plan. Or, he should have waited out the transition, hoping it would work. At least give it another year.

By announcing that he was resigning/retiring when he did, he effectively killed the reorganization plan he just announced. There is no successor-in-waiting, so the person leading Microsoft next would not have been part of the reorganization process. It’s a hunt they don’t have a dog in.

As a leader, trying to implement another leader’s strategy is not something I would want to do, regardless of the company. And I wouldn’t do it. I would either develop my own strategy or just not take the position. My leadership style is not like Steve Ballmer’s. In fact, no one’s style or strategy is like Ballmer’s. It can’t be implemented like he would do. They don’t understand the strategy as he did.

Any leader worth his or her salt will implement his or her own strategy. The next CEO should not have …read more

Read more here: Systems Thinking


David has been a systems thinker most of his life. He has started three businesses as well as designed and developed systems and processes in existing organizations. He has a Doctorate in Leadership and has also done additional post-graduate work in communications.

He has also pastored 3 churches and loves to think about, write about and podcast about scripture, theology, and leadership.

Join the discussion

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Further reading

Uncertainty and Chaos

Grounded in Uncertainty

Covid has created a world of uncertainty. People have lost so much, including family members and friends, and in many cases, it has stressed...


Recent posts