Back in March 2014, I read a fascinating interview of Microsoft’s new CEO, Satya Nadella, by the Times writer, Adam Bryant. Nadella’s orientation was so unique and rhetorically fascinating that I decided there was enough information provided for a verbal analysis. Using psycho-rhetoric, a new tool that makes assessments possible, I posted the results on my blog.
I drew a number of conclusions growing out of Nadella’s consistent use of the rhetorical form of point/counterpoint. The form--a verbal pattern--stresses affinity to the past, and provides an alternative reading for the future. The use of the form made it possible to reap the positive and constructive legends surrounding Gates’ tenure without rejecting Steve Ballmer’s tenure. Significantly, the strategy limits the potential for rejection and blowback that many new CEOs face.
Using point/counterpoint, Nadella positioned the individual expertise as the real power of Microsoft’s teamwork. He also moved to confirm the present leadership team, strongly emphasizing their abilities, and securing the value of continuity. Finally, he used the Microsoft rhetoric of “formula,” but tweaked so that he can insert his own strategy. In effect, Nadella affirms the traditions of the past while adapting them to the new leadership and the present. Implicitly, my post suggested that Nadella was a superb CEO choice, a conversationalist and leader par excellence.
Well, was the analysis correct? Just three years later, a March issue of The Economist had a two page article on Nadella and...