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Doing it the Bill Gates Way: 7 Habits Every Leader Should Follow

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Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television

If you conduct a mini survey in your office and ask people to name the three most influential people in the world, Bill Gates would probably feature in all their answers. Such a noticeable impact in the field of technology was unheard of.

As of 2019, Bill Gates is worth $110 Billion. People are even scared of dreaming of reaching Bill Gates’ height of success let alone do something about it. But contrary to his success, his ideologies and habits are deceptively simple (though extremely useful). He is often seen giving advice for budding (also established industry leaders) entrepreneurs in his interviews.

Let’s look at a few of his most effective habits and ideologies that will help you be an empowering leader:

1. The Early Bird Takes the Worm

Bill Gates highly regards the quality of starting the day early. Every day Bill starts his day with a moderate amount of cardio in the morning. He spends about an hour on the treadmill before starting his day. The benefits of starting the day with a reasonable amount of exercise are unparalleled.

For starters, it kickstarts your metabolism and makes you feel active throughout the day. Break an early sweat, and your body rewards you with endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin which elevates your mood, helps you become more active and removes stress. And of course, daily exercise is proven to provide a good night’s sleep.

Early morning exercise benefits are sworn by not just Bill Gates but also Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg, Katherine Power among others.

“Don’t compare yourself with anyone in this world. If you do so, you are insulting yourself.” – Bill Gates

2. Being A Life-Long Learner

It might not come as a surprise that Bill Gates has been a life long learner, right from his childhood. Bill is well known as a devourer of books, consuming books at rates as high as one per week. That amounts to 52 books a year! Back in his college days, Bill often used to attend classes he didn’t sign up for. This way, he used to get double education. Every year Bill recommends his favorite books and his goals for the next year as well on his personal blog. Even startup legends like Zuckerberg have picked up on Bill’s habit and have started a similar ritual of recommending his favourite books of the year.

3. Give Credit

One thing most leaders are known for is hogging the credit. Bill Gates definitely serves as an exception. Although he is one of the world’s richest people and a genius entrepreneur, he has a clear policy of giving credit where it is due. He is especially fond of and appreciative of his co-founder Paul Allen. Even Allen has a habit of speaking highly of his employees and partners. This attitude transforms a manager to a leader and promotes engagement and motivation at work. And yes, it works wonder for your brand too. Bill and Allen believe that complimenting brilliant talent over the years have not only contributed to their success but also made the whole process fun.

4. Getting Plenty of Sleep

Yes, you read that right. Getting enough sleep is as crucial for leaders like any other factor. You might have read stories about how some global leader manages to function effectively with just 4 hours of sleep, but most of them are just blatant exaggeration. Chronic lack of sleep increases the chances of heart attack, obesity, diabetes, and stroke.

Also, lack of sleep increases the secretion of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol helps in breaking collagen, which keeps the skin smooth. Bill doesn’t look like a 64-year-old guy. That’s because he sleeps a lot. Bill ensures that he gets 7 hours of sleep daily. That’s a habit, not just leaders but everyone should follow.

5. Frugality

One of the highest qualities of a leader is that of frugality. Bill Gates is a shining example of frugality (which is surprisingly common among billionaires). With $90+ billion in net worth, Bill can literally buy anything that can be purchased. This doesn’t motivate the billionaire to blow out cash like there’s no tomorrow. In 2016 on a Reddit Q&A, Bill said he doesn’t like to spend a lot of money on clothes and jewelry. Not just personal usage, Bill doesn’t like to go overboard with the company spending too. For a long time, Bill used to fly economy for all official purposes. Being frugal doesn’t necessarily mean being cheap. Frugal means being smart, resourceful and finding the best value for investment.

6. Learning from Setbacks

According to Bill Gates, success is a lousy teacher. It makes people believe that they cannot lose. The underlining fact is that if you want to take significant risks, you will more often have to settle for failures. Bill believes that Microsoft’s success is in part due to his team’s ability to recognize and work on shortcomings. He wasn’t hesitant to change course when a mistake was identified. For some people, it takes more than a few mistakes to identify the problem. Learning from setbacks not only improves your problem-solving skills but also establishes an atmosphere in the workplace where employees don’t hesitate to take risks.

“To win big, you sometimes have to take big risks.” – Bill Gates

7. Having Faith in Your Judgement

Sometimes leaders have to be a bit stubborn in their decision making. When Bill Gates came up with the idea of Microsoft in the 1970s, it was as outrageous as flying cars. His ideas were often criticized by investors as impractical and outrageous. Bill decided to have faith in the clarity of his vision despite the lack of trust of most people. In these situations, it’s vital to have an idea of the bigger picture in mind and let go of minor short term setbacks. But its also equally important to keep in mind that passionate stubbornness does not transform into arrogance.

Emerging leaders need to study the behavioral habits of people who made it large. But yes, being a leader like Bill Gates is no small task. You should have an air of confidence in the decision you take while being receptive to the criticism when faced with a setback. But in the end, patience is the key ingredient in the making of a great leader.

Anjan Pathak is a Co-founder and CTO at Vantage Circle - an Employee Engagement Platform. Anjan is an HR technology enthusiast, very passionate about employee wellness and actively participates in the growth of the corporate culture. He is an avid reader and likes to be updated in the latest know-how of Human Resource.

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