Hitting Refresh (Part 1)

I'm currently in the process of reading Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft's Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone. The book tells the story of how Satya Nadella, the current CEO of Microsoft, started turning the massive boat that is Microsoft around. In this post, I would like to share some of the insights that he talked about.


One of the big things that Satya mentions quite a bit in the book is that of empathy. Empathy is the ability to listen, understand and bring the best out of everyone. By doing this, you bolster the confidence of people and allow them to achieve great things. Couple this with allowing your team members to take ownership, as opposed to being told what to do, and you have a recipe for a great team.

He also talked about an interview question he got asked when first joining Microsoft. It wasn't anything technical and went along the following line "If you come across a crying baby on the side of the street, what do you do?". To this Satya replied that he would call 911. The interviewer replied "You need to show more empathy". I like this as it resonates with the fact that there is a lot more to software development than the being structured and logical.

Culture & Leadership

As a leader you need to put your team first. This means before any personal stats or recognition. I have said quite a few times before, your job as a leader is not be the smartest person in the room and making sure that everyone looks to you for answers (and thereby boosting your ego). By putting the team first and making sure that they succeed will ensure that you succeed.

A brilliant person who doesn't put the team first, can easily destroy it.

In addition, you should always seek to learn from your team and earn their respect. By doing this you will be able to rally them and get them focused on the same goal. One of the most difficult things to do is build a lasting team. In order to do this, change needs to come from inside the team, not from you. This will ensure that the change is sustainable, long after you have left.

One thing to take away from this is that transformation is usually slow, tiresome and frustrating at times, before it become rewarding. As I carry on with the book I will publish more blog posts with more important insights that I find.

Until next time...keep learning!

Mauro Da Silva

Learning everyday about software development, leadership & self improvement

Johannesburg, South Africa