Sinofsky Exit Focuses on ‘Playing Well with Others’

Susan Hall

The exit of Windows president Steven Sinofsky from Microsoft is being likened to that of Apple’s Scott Forstall, both reportedly out due to difficulty in “playing well with others,” according to Bloomberg.

GeekWire’s Todd Bishop reads that through the lines in CEO Steve Ballmer’s announcement, in which he said:

it is imperative that we continue to drive alignment across all Microsoft teams, and have more integrated and rapid development cycles for our offerings.

Bishop describes Sinofsky’s reputation within Microsoft as:

focused intently on controlling the success of his own division, and not all that interested in playing along with the rest of the company.

Clearly a collaborative style is growing more important. A MarketWatch piece from a couple of years ago described a “matrix” management style increasingly used in tech companies in which committees make important decisions and executives have to use their people skills to win budget and other resources.

Those people skills aren’t just a priority for managers, though. In my interviews with IT hiring managers in recent months, over and over they’ve talked about how it’s not an “I” culture, but a “we” culture at their companies for all levels. (Some don’t even want job candidates to use “I” that much in stories of their accomplishments.)

Indeed, employers recruiting on college campuses surveyed by the National Association of Colleges and Employers listed the ability to work with others as their most-sought-after skill.

Author Aaron McDaniel urges young workers to focus on being team players in his interview with my colleague Don Tennant and his book, “The Young Professional’s Guide to the Working World: Savvy Strategies to Get In, Get Ahead, and Rise to the Top.”


McDaniel, senior director of global strategy and business development at AT&T at 29, explained his strategy this way:

Instead of focusing on my own career in terms of making sure everything I do looks great, I said, “How can I align my goals with my boss’s? How can I make my peers successful and help them?” In doing that, when it comes time for bonuses or promotions or raises, if you’re doing whatever you can do to make your boss look good, and to support your organization, that helps you, and that gives you opportunities. Everyone wants that type of person on their team.



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