Steve Ballmer Offers Management Advice for Other CEOs

Paul Lilly

Microsoft chief shares his secrets of the trade

There are at least a couple of different ways you can view parting advice from the not-yet-retired Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft. One is that if Steve Ballmer's management tips were truly worth their weight in gold, Microsoft wouldn't find itself in a position of having to restructure its organization and pressure the man in charge to let go of the reins. The other way to look at it is that Ballmer was (and still is, for the time being) in charge of the one of the biggest companies in the world, and though there have been some missteps -- especially towards the end -- he's managed several impressive accomplishments along the way, such as increasing Microsoft's revenue from $25 billion to $70 billion.

In any event, ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley was able to sit down and interview Ballmer last month, and one of things she asked him to share were his top five management tips for other CEOs. Here they are:

  • Make sure you see the whole playing field
  • Don't pin hopes on a single individual or "dream team"
  • Realize there's no perfect business model for every era
  • Don't place only long-term or only short-term bets
  • Know your limits

Under Ballmer's leadership, Microsoft went from having little-to-no presence in enterprise to now being a major player in that sector. He also greenlit Xbox, which was one of the first major decisions he made as Microsoft's chief.

The one item that perhaps sticks out the most on that list is "Know your limits." Indeed, one of the things he said when announcing his retirement is that even though there's never a perfect time to step away, now is the right time.

"We have embarked on a new strategy with a new organization and we have an amazing Senior Leadership Team. My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our company's transformation to a devices and services company," Ballmer said . "We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction."

What do you think about Ballmer's tips?

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