Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey | Leadership

Modified: 17th May 2017
Wordcount: 3410 words

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This report presents a review of leadership theories in brief and the contrast and similarity between Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey Leadership style; who are two of the well known people in the world.

The report begins with an introduction about the two well known faces, Opera Winfrey and Bill Gates who are consider as the successful leaders in the world.

The next section would be the biography of Opera and Bill gates in brief.

The following section gives a brief review of leadership theories which have been applied in different organizations during these years.

Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey Leadership Qualities which are the main idea of this paper is discussed in the current section and the aim of this section is the better understanding of the importance of leadership quality in a successful business.

The next section discuss the similarity and contrast between Bill Gates leadership quality and the leadership quality of Opera Winfrey in terms of leadership theories in general

In the current section , my own opinion about Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey Leadership style would be explained

The report conclusion is about he


Welcome to this report which was a glimpse of the Management and Leadership theories and how famous people such as Opera Winfrey and Bill Gates applied them to achieve their success.

It draws together a range of materials detailing approaches to leadership and leadership theories.

The ability to inspire people to reach great performance and success is a skill that leaders need. Passion, purpose, listening and meaning help make a leader inspirational. The ability to communicate that passion, purpose and meaning to others helps establish the motivating culture of your organization. These points will tell you how to enable inspiration and motivation in the people you lead. In the list of the world’s ranking mega-leaders, there are few women. This is undoubtedly not for any lack of talent or leadership ability among women, but more likely because the step between being a good leader and being a world-renowned mega-leader is quite large, and few women or men, for that matter have been able to pull together all of the abilities and resources necessary to make it happen. In Oprah Winfrey’s case, however, mega-leadership was achievable, and she has not only achieved it but keeps increasing her leadership base. On the other hand Bill Gates is one of the most successful entrepreneurs of the world. He is able to run a successful and a profitable entrepreneurship for many years and even today, we cannot survive in this competitive world without it. Vision and dedication are the key factors of being a successful entrepreneur and these skills were present in Bill Gates from the beginning.

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Bill Gates

“Bill Gates was born on October 28, 1955 in a family having rich business, political and community service background. Bill strongly believes in hard work. He believes that if you are intelligent and know how to apply your intelligence, you can achieve anything. From childhood Bill was ambitious, intelligent and competitive. These qualities helped him to attain top position in the profession he chose. In school, he had an excellent record in mathematics and science. Still he was getting very bored in school. Bill’s parents came to know their son’s intelligence and decided to enroll him in a private school, known for its intense academic environment. Bill Gates and his friends were very much interested in computer and formed “Programmers Group” in late 1968. In the next year, they got their first opportunity in Information Sciences Inc, which they were selected as programmers. ISI (Information Sciences Inc.) agreed to give them royalties whenever it made money from any of the group’s program. As a result of the business deal signed with Information Sciences Inc., the group also became a legal business.

Bill Gates and his close friend Allen started new company of their own, Traf-O-Data. They developed a small computer to measure traffic flow. From this project they earned around $20,000. The era of Traf-O-Data came to an end when Gates left the college. In 1973, he left home for Harvard University. He took the standard freshman courses with the exception of signing up for one of Harvard’s toughest mathematics courses. He did well over there, but he couldn’t find it interesting too. At the end of Bill’s first year, his best friend Allen, came close to him so that they could follow some of their ideas. That summer they got job in Honeywell. Allen kept on pushing Bill for opening a new software company. Within a year, Bill Gates dropped out from Harvard. Then he formed Microsoft. Microsoft’s vision is “A computer on every desk and Microsoft software on every computer”. Bill is a visionary person and works very hard to achieve his vision. “( Ravi Kumar Paluri)

Oprah Winfrey

“Born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, Oprah Winfrey was reared by her grandmother on a farm where she “began her broadcasting career” by learning to read aloud and perform recitation at the age of three. After suffering abuse and molestation, at the age of 13, she was sent to Nashville to live under her father’s strict discipline “As strict as he was,” says Oprah, “he had some concerns about me making the best of my life, and would not accept anything less than what he thought was my best.”

Oprah Winfrey’s broadcasting career began at age 17, when she was hired by WVOL radio in Nashville, and two years later signed on with WTVF-TV in Nashville as a reporter/anchor. She attended Tennessee State University, where she majored in Speech Communications and Performing Arts.

In 1976, she moved to Baltimore to join WJZ-TV news as a co-anchor, and in 1978 discovered her talent for hosting talk shows when she became co-host of WJZ-TV’s “People Are Talking,” while continuing to serve as anchor and news reporter.

In January 1984, she came to Chicago to host WLS-TV’s “AM Chicago,” a faltering local talk show. In less than a year, she turned “AM Chicago” into the hottest show in town. The format was soon expanded to one hour, and in September 1985 it was renamed “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

Seen nationally since September 8, 1986, “The Oprah Winfrey Show” became the number one talk show in national syndication in less than a year. In June 1987, in its first year of eligibility, “The Oprah Winfrey Show” received three Daytime Emmy Awards in the categories of Outstanding Host, Outstanding Talk/Service Program and Outstanding Direction. In June 1988, “The Oprah Winfrey Show” received its second consecutive Daytime Emmy Award as Outstanding Talk/Service Program, and she herself received the International Radio and Television Society’s “Broadcaster of the Year” Award. She was the youngest person and only the fifth woman ever to receive the honor in IRTS’s 25-year history. Winfrey’s business and personal interests are wide ranging and she has managed to accomplish success in several areas. Apart from being a successful Talk show host she is also a producer, successful actress, Founder of the successful “O, the Oprah Magazine”, co founder of “Oxygen Media”, and a generous Philanthropist. Her entrepreneurial spirit and desire to change society for the better have brought her and her numerous companies many awards and achievements.

Oprah Winfrey was named one of the 100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century by Time magazine, and in 1998 received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. “(Opera Winfrey)


A review of the leadership literature reveals a developing series of ‘schools of thought’ from “Great Man” and “Trait” theories to “Transformational” leadership (see table).

Later theories begin to consider the role of followers and the related nature of leadership, whilst early theories tend to focus upon the characteristics and behaviors of successful leaders.

Great Man


Based on the belief that leaders are exceptional people, born with inborn qualities, destined to lead. The use of the term ‘man’ was intentional since until the latter part of the twentieth century leadership was thought of as a concept, which is primarily male, military and Western. This led to the next school of Trait Theories

Trait Theories

The lists of traits or qualities associated with leadership exist in plenty and continue to be produced. They draw on virtually all the adjectives in the dictionary which describe some positive or worthy human attribute, from ambition to zest for life



These concentrate on what leaders actually do rather than on their qualities. Different patterns of behavior are observed and categorized as ‘styles of leadership’. This area has probably attracted most attention from practicing managers



This approach sees leadership as specific to the situation in which it is being exercised. For example, whilst some situations may require a domineering style, others may need a more participative approach. It also proposes that there may be differences in required leadership styles at different levels in the same organization



This is an improvement of the situational viewpoint and focuses on identifying the situational variables which best predict the most appropriate or effective leadership style to fit the particular circumstances



This approach emphasizes the importance of the relationship between leader and followers, focusing on the mutual benefits derived from a form of ‘contract’ through which the leader delivers such things as rewards or recognition in return for the commitment or loyalty of the followers



The central concept here is change and the role of leadership in visualizing and implementing the transformation of organizational performance

Bill Gates Leadership Qualities

Bill Gates with her vision has a clear, vivid picture of where to go, as well as a firm find on what success looks like and how to achieve it. Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric Co., said, “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision and relentlessly drive it to completion.”

Bill Gates communicates clearly and passionately and this is one of the most powerful points of this manager.

Bill Gates has the discipline to work toward his vision single-mindedly, as well as to direct his manner and those of the team toward the goal.

Bill Gate’s leadership is participative style because he involves his subordinate in decision making. He is a flexible person and he recognized his role was to be visionary of the company. When ever needed he bring professional manager for managing and well structure of the organization. Gates is a strong and energizing person his enthusiasm, hard working nature, judgment skills reflect his personality. His motivating power and involving his friends to working with him became the success of Microsoft.

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“Integrity is the integration of outward actions and inner values” (Bergmann, 1999). Bill Gates as a person of integrity is the same on the outside and on the inside. Such an individual can be trusted because he never veers from inner values, even when it might be expeditious to do so. Bill Gates has the trust of followers and therefore must display integrity.

“Dedication means spending whatever time or energy is necessary to accomplish the task at hand” (Bergmann, 1999). Bill Gates inspires dedication by example, doing whatever it takes to complete the next step toward the vision.

“Magnanimity means giving credit where it is due” (Bergmann, 1999). Bill Gates as a leader ensures that credit for successes is spread as widely as possible throughout the company. Conversely, Bill Gates takes personal responsibility for failures. This sort of reverse magnanimity helps other people feel good about them and draws the team closer together.

Leaders with humility recognize that they are no better or worse than other members of the team. Bill Gates is not self-effacing but rather tries to elevate everyone.. Mahatma Gandhi is a role model for Indian leaders, and he pursued a “follower-centric” leadership role.

Openness means being able to listen to new ideas, even if they do not conform to the usual way of thinking. Bill Gates is able to suspend judgment while listening to others’ ideas, as well as accept new ways of doing things that someone else thought of. Openness builds mutual respect and trust between leaders and followers, and it also keeps the team well supplied with new ideas that can further its vision.

Creativity is the most important leadership quality of Bill Gates. Bill gates develop computer language new Altair 8080 pc which became the foundation of Microsoft. Bill continuously develops two other computer languages. When IBM develops their first pc and which need operating system to run the computer, Microsoft develops MS-DOS for IBM. Gates adopting the changes very fast that are his enthusiasm vision and hard working give him the success. Gates always recognized him as a visionary he always recognize professional management, he decentralize authority to make organization structure better.

Fairness means dealing with others consistently and justly. Bill gates check all the facts and hear everyone out before passing judgment. He avoids leaping to conclusions based on incomplete evidence. When people feel they that are being treated fairly, they reward a leader with loyalty and dedication.

Bill gates know how to use humor to energize followers. Humor is a form of power that provides some control over the work environment.

One of the most important quality of Bill gates is that he is and supportive. Bill gates always take the blame for a loss, turnover, miss executed play, etc. If the problem wasn’t his fault, he won’t blame anyone else; he either blames himself, or don’t say anything.

Bill gates also know how to take charge. When the rest of the team seems confused, he will take control and guide the rest of the members. Bill gates know how to stay calm under pressure. While normal people may crack or feel flustered, he knows how to guide his team to victory and stay cool.

He also has confidence in his team members, he has a good communication and, to let his team mates improve themselves. If a mistake is done, he will accept the mistake and take that mistake to improve the team.

Oprah Winfrey Leadership Qualities

Oprah Winfrey has an exemplary character. One of the important points for leaders is trustworthy to lead others whish she has it.

“She is enthusiastic about her work or cause and also about her role as leader” (Blackler, 2003). It is a fact that people will respond more openly to a person like Oprah Winfrey that has passion and dedication. She has the ability to be able to be a source of inspiration, and be a motivator towards the required action or cause. Although, if we have a comparison between the responsibilities and positions of Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates we can find many differences, she need to be seen to be part of the team working towards the goal same as Bill Gates.

Result of researches shows that in order to lead and set direction a leader needs to appear confident as a person and in the leadership role and she is confident.

She has the ability to function in an orderly and purposeful manner in situations of uncertainty.

“She is tolerant of ambiguity and remains calm, composed and steadfast to the main purpose” (Blackler, 2003). Oprah Winfrey as well as keeping the main goal in focus is able to think analytically. Not only does a good leader view a situation as a whole, but is able to break it down into sub parts for closer inspection.

She stand up for what is right, even in the face of popular disagreement. She also accepts blame when at fault. The most amazing thing is she has an inward desire that motivates her to excel; she also has the willing to act without orders and to offer well-considered recommendations for the improvement of the command. She is accountable, and that quality forms the cornerstone of leadership. She makes decisions, good or bad, and accepts the responsibility and consequences for those decisions.

Compare between Leadership qualities of Gates and Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey as a leader is more assertive and persuasive, has a stronger need to get things done and is more willing to take risks than Bill Gates. He remains stymied in the same occupational title and pay level for many years. He become too valuable in his positions in Microsoft .Bill Gates does not have any more strong will to make risk and put his self in dangerous situation. Oprah Winfrey was also found to be more empathetic and flexible, as well as stronger in interpersonal skills that bring the special ability for her to read situations accurately and take information in from all sides same as Bill Gates.

Both of them as two of biggest leaders in the world are able to bring others around to their point of view, so that the people they are leading feel more understood, supported and valued.

When we have a comparison between these two we can find that both of them have the ability to attract people’s attention and the great ability to digest input of the entire people of the world. Beside of that, they have Keeping people involved on the task at hand and understanding when to push and when not to.

Leadership comes in many styles, shapes, and forms. Some people are leaders because they lead by example to better a group of people, and others are leaders because people learn from their decisions and business ideas.

As a leader, Bill Gates believed that his managers should have their own personal authority. Indeed, each manager was expected to act like his own little CEO in his own modest right. He desired his managers to be responsible for his own influence on the stream of things and the tides of change. From here, we could tell them Gates also show some form of participative leadership, whereby Gates demand his managers to be creative and able to solve complex problems, and improving their quality. I personally prefer this style of leadership that Gates uses as it seems to be in the middle between not being engaged and over controlling, allowing the organization to be able to innovate and grow.

Oprah Winfrey, communicate clearly and honestly to their followers, she use a combination of their personality, beliefs and capabilities to lead.

Motivating followers to support and implement her ideas through change is an important part of the way that she uses to influence the peoples of different societies. She wishes inspire trust and confidence in her followers and with strategic thinking and trust building, support and empower her followers to be a catalyst for change.


As a conclusion, after a review of leadership theories in brief and the contrast and similarity between Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey Leadership style; who are two of the well known people in the world we can find that there is not one standard, correct style for all leaders in all circumstances at all times and any group or individual behaves differently from each other. Each leader has to find differences and adapt according to the situation but at all they use same ideas in different ways for one target” SUCCESS”.


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