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Leaders as Meaning Makers: Notes from Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella

By April 11, 2022Article
Leaders as Meaning Makers Notes from Microsoft's CEO, Satya Nadella

“We spend far too much time at work for it not to have deep meaning.”

Satya Nadella — who took over as CEO of Steve Ballmer six years ago — is the best thing to happen to Microsoft investors since Bill Gates departed as CEO. Since then Microsoft stock has soared 90% from $90 to almost $175 — nearly three times where Gates left it.

What’s behind this success?

Nadella’s solution was a new culture dubbed the “growth mindset.” Culture is turning specific values into criteria for hiring, promoting, and firing people. Some cultures — those that draw and motivate the most capable people to create world-beating products and deliver exceptional customer service — promote growth.

And that’s what Nadella’s cultural change has accomplished.

“Every person, organization, and even society reaches a point at which they owe it to themselves to hit refresh—to reenergize, renew, reframe, and rethink their purpose.”

Nadella changed Microsoft’s culture in a way that made current and potential clients feel that Microsoft cared about their benefits.  Cited in his book Hit Refresh, Nadella stated that the CEO is the curator of an organization’s culture. Anything is possible for a company when its culture is about listening, learning, and harnessing individual passions and talents to the company’s mission. Creating that kind of culture is [Nadella’s] chief job as CEO.

The key to the culture change was individual empowerment. We sometimes undervalue what we each can do to make things happen, and overvalue what others can do for us. Culture is your company’s internal compass, inspiring actions to take in a time of crisis.

Although IQ and EQ are considered important conditions that must be met in achieving peak performance, they are not enough. There is a third intelligence that describes peak performance as meaningful, able to provide enthusiasm, and challenges. We named this category Meaning Quotient (MQ).

When the MQ of the work environment is low, workers use only a fraction of their energy to get the job done and think it’s all “just work” that earns them no more than a monthly salary. The opportunity cost of this loss of meaning is enormous.

Through our Leadership Training program, leaders will learn how to create positive habits and internalize company values to create sustainable and correct HR regulations. These are the steps on your journey to becoming a role model and meaning maker for your company.


  • Nadella, S. 2017. Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft’s Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone. New York: Harper Business.
  • Ark, T.V. 2018. Hit Refresh: How a Growth Mindset Culture Tripled Microsoft’s Value. Retrieved from
  • Leaders as Meaning Maker by ACT Consulting International

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