Satya Nadella's first job as the third CEO in Microsoft's 40-year history was to get a huge company to unite behind a single goal: to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. In his latest book, "Hit Refresh," Nadella says he enlisted psychologist Michael Gervais, who devised a simple exercise:
Write down your guiding principle in 25 words or less—and read it aloud to your peers.
There were no initial volunteers, Nadella wrote in his book. Dr. Michael Gervais, a high-performance psychologist and co-founder of Compete to Create, a psychology-based mental training consultancy, had discovered something curious about the group at Microsoft.
The company was stacked with high-performers, but none of them were willing to volunteer for a simple exercise. "The answers were hard to pull out, even though they were just beneath the surface," wrote Nadella. "Fear: of being ridiculed; of failing; of not looking like the smartest person in the room."
No executive, each with so much riding on their shoulders, wanted to look foolish in front of their peers, Nadella writes. This revealed Microsoft's huge problem: It wasn't a lack of creativity or ideas. The problem was that people simply didn't want to share them.
Gervais's one exercise he taught Nadella and the other executives was designed to teach Microsoft these key lessons: