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Bill Gates explains one area where Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is a better leader than he is

  • Bill Gates has reclaimed some oversight of Microsoft's products under the leadership of Satya Nadella.
  • The Microsoft CEO said that co-founder Gates has an inimitable way of "galvanizing" workers to do their best.
  • Gates said Nadella "has a natural ability to work well with lots of people."
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella
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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates says that the company's CEO, Satya Nadella, is naturally great at a skill that took him years to learn: how to deliver feedback with empathy.

Gates and Nadella spoke to WSJ Magazine in an interview published Monday, a rare chat with two of the three men to ever run Microsoft.

"Early on we were speed nuts, staying all night [at the office, thinking], 'Oh, you're five percent slower as a programmer? You don't belong here.' It was very hard-core," Gates told the magazine, citing his rivalry with Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. "I think as this industry has matured, so has what's expected of a CEO. Satya has a natural ability to work well with lots of people, to tell people they're wrong in a nice way and to let feedback come through to him more than I did."

Gates has reclaimed some oversight of Microsoft's products under the leadership of Nadella, who said that Gates has an inimitable way of "galvanizing" workers to do their best. Nadella, on the other hand, said that while being "hard-core" is still an important part of his job, he thinks humility is the only way to really put himself in his customers' shoes.

"The reason why I use the word empathy is because the business we are in is to meet the unmet, unarticulated needs of customers. That's what innovation is all about. And there's no way you're going to do that well without having empathy and curiosity," Nadella told the magazine.

Read the full interview at WSJ.com.