Hey WorkLifers, it’s Adam Grant. Welcome back to Taken for Granted, my podcast with the TED Audio Collective. I’m an organizational psychologist. My job is to think again about how we work, lead, and live. Today, my guest is Satya Nadella, chairman and CEO of Microsoft–where he’s worked since 1992. He’s widely admired for transforming the culture, building the cloud business, and steering a 700% gain in shares. His approval rating on Glassdoor is nearly perfect, and this conversation will give you a sense of why: he exudes care, curiosity, and humility. He’s also a big fan of cricket and poetry. And as a computer scientist, of course he loves data–and Microsoft has gathered quite a bit on the future of work. So enjoy.
There was a time and I’m not going to locate it, but you can, when Microsoft was externally known [00:01:00] for a lot of internal competition, forced rankings that pitted people against each other were pretty popular and you came in and challenged that dynamic and said, look, we want to collaborate. We want to be one Microsoft.
[00:01:09] Adam Grant:
Can you help us understand how you made that change?
[00:01:13] Satya Nadella:
Being essentially the first non founder CEO, I felt the real need to, in some sense, refound the company or borrowing the phrase that Reid Hoffman users, which I like a lot, because from time to time, companies need that moment where you need to reground yourself and starting with. The sense of purpose and mission, like why do we exist? And if we sort of disappeared with anybody, miss us to remind, because I think every one of us who work in any company need that anchoring in order to then go on to make all the decisions and work we do. And then the other one was to really put forth the culture that we aspire to.
[00:01:52] Satya Nadella:
And that’s where I bought it from Carol Dweck’s work on growth mindset. Uh, which has been a godsend to us because, you know, it’s really helped us go from this, know it all to learn it alls. And that mission and culture has given us, perhaps Adam, more of that permission to look inwards, look to what systems, processes, behaviors, make us successful in the first place and reinforce them. And then the same thing, what systems, processes, and behaviors make us sort of not successful. And then.
[00:02:25] Adam Grant:
So, is this the future? Are we in it right now? Or what is it coming?
[00:02:30] Satya Nadella:
You know, we definitely are in it and it is going to evolve. I think our expectations of what to read and how we work have gone through a real structural shift, but I think we’re still figuring it out in terms of this next phase, before long-term trends truly step up.