by Marisa Taylor

 When multitudes of decisions need to
be make, delegate. Seek passionate people
to work for you. Budget your time careful-
ly, and keep a culture of innovation alive
within your company.
 These are the secrets to Microsoft CEO
Steve Ballmer's success, as revealed in
a series of short video interviews for the
Wall Street Journal's Lessons in Leader-
ship guide, where he discusses his views
on time management, making decisions,
driving innovation, and more.
 While Mr. Ballmer, who has been at the
helm of Microsoft since 2000, is known for
his eccentric personality and episodes of
excitable public behavior, he gives sound
and structured advice to business leaders
about how he approaches his work at Mi-
 He says that there's a stereotype that
innovation happens at a rapid fire pace,
but he doesn't agree - he thinks that com-
panies should invest in innovation over a
long period of time. "Hardly anything in
the tech industry went from rags to riches
overnight," he explains. And while talk-
ing about and emphasizing a culture of
innovation is crucial for a company's suc-
cess, he says, there must be a limit when a
company reaches a larger size: "Cultures
of innovation doesn't mean that everybody
gest to reinvent the wheel six times. The
need for a certain level of persistence and
tenacity is I think a surprisingly important
part of innovation."
 And when it comes to making decisions,
he'd rather not have to do it very often, but
instead thinks a leader should delegate as
much as possible, rather than running a
company that has to come to him for every
single one. While he does make the big
choices, such as whether or not Microsoft
will invest with a certain company, and
will sign off on decisions that other people
have made, "the number of decisions that
I actually have to make myself is relatively
low," he says.
 In the same vein, Mr. Ballmer is not a
big believer in micromanagement. While
he admits that he does have what he re-
fers to as an "Anglo-Saxon personality" in
which he likes to see evidence and detail in
order to feel comfortable with certain prin-
ciples, he would rather as questions that
require discussions of detail, as opposed to
blatant micromanagement.
 With respect to running meetings, Mr.
Ballmer admits that his "brain jumps
around too much." He prefers that the
long, presentation style of meetings that
are rife with "theater" are cut to a mini-
mum and instead favors a system of re-
ceiving materials in advance, which should
lead with a summary of the meeting's
main points and allow him some time to
ask questions. "If I was a kid, they'd say
I have a little bit of-what do they call it?-
ADD," explains.
 And he also runs a tight ship when it
comes to management of his time-he
keeps a detailed spreadsheet in which he
budgets his time for the year. His meetings
with customers and partners, formal meet-
ings, free time, and time spent away from
Seattle are all mapped out and allocated
strategically so that he can accomplish his
goals and still manage to spend as much
time as he can with his three children.
 And sometimes, Mr. Ballmer says, a
company should look to outside hires to
spice things up and bring in new view-
points. To be "dynamic," a company
should hire internally 70 to 80% of the
time, but should bring in outsiders 20 to
30% of the time, but checking references
is key. And when he interviews people, he
is looking for two things: first, passion ("
It doesn't have to be bubbly, but you need
to see the passion. But you always can-
you can see it in the eyes," he says.), and
second, a person with whom he can relate.
He'd like an interviewee to talk with him
about something he or she is proud of, and
to explain it in detail.

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