The Microsoft CEO said he “never expected” to get the top job — it’s his best career advice

As Satya Nadella walked through the doors of Microsoft’s Washington office in 1992, he said to himself, “This is the greatest job in the world. I do not need more.”

Twenty-two years later, he was appointed CEO of the company.

Speaking to LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky as part of this The Path video series, Nadella revealed that in his youth he did not focus on his studies but on cricket. His parents, father a civil servant and mother a Sanskrit professor, gave him “space and confidence” to become his own person.

He attended university in India before studying in Wisconsin and after graduating in 1990 got a job at Sun Microsystems in Silicon Valley. A few years later, in 1992, he was offered a job at Microsoft.

Nadella, who has run the company since 2014, said he chose the Brand founded by Bill Gates because it reflected a sense of empowerment. Nadella said he remembers using a computer for the first time as a kid: “The malleability of software was what got me hooked. but it was there, latent.”

Years later Nadella says Microsoft offered echoes of the potential of computing He had realized as a kid, “It’s that sense of empowerment. I felt like I wanted to make sure everyone else could feel that freedom that computers give you to express yourself.”

Now a board member for people like Starbucks and the University of Chicago, as well as the Chair of the Business Council US, Nadella said, “There was never a time when I thought that the job I do — in all my 30 years at Microsoft — was somehow a way to another job.

“I felt like the work I was doing there was the most important thing, I really felt it. And then of course it helped me get my next job.”

That feeling led Nadella to his best career advice: “Don’t wait for your next job to do your best work. I think sometimes we define our jobs narrowly. One of the managers I worked for said, ‘Hey, what if you did a thought experiment and you considered your job to be my job and not your job, and what would you do?'”

As a result, he said, he’s begun taking on some of the burden placed on his manager, allowing him to grow his own role without having to wait for a promotion.

rise through the ranks

Born in southern India, Nadella steadily worked his way up the ranks at Microsoft thanks to this attitude. After initially working on the development of Microsoft Windows NT, he then turned his talent to the organization’s business solutions team. In 2007, he was named senior vice president of research and development, before five years later receiving another push to become president of the $19 billion server and tools business.

Nadella’s other accomplishments include serving as executive vice president for Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, which provided the infrastructure foundation for services such as the Xbox Live gaming network, the Bing search engine, and the Office 365 subscription model.

As CEO, Nadella was praised for his attention to company culture. However, the company was criticized for this year 10,000 layoffs announced the day after Hosted a private Sting concert for its executives in Davos.

“Leadership is such a privilege,” he said. “Whenever you lead someone, don’t look at it as an entitlement, but as a privilege. The question is: how do you earn it?”

leadership lessons

Leaders must always aim to bring clarity to confusing or ambiguous situations, Nadella said, “No matter how smart you are, if you come in at an already uncertain time and create even more confusion, that’s not leadership.”

His second tip for bosses is to generate energy so people leaving conversations feel enlivened by the interaction they just had. Finally, he said there is no time for a perfect playing field or ideal conditions to perform, explaining that it is the job of managers and the CEO to unburden teams and enable them to perform. He added that no one is the “perfect” leader, but those who wonder how they could have brought more clarity, energy, or freedom to their employees will always improve.

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