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Satya Nadella at Microsoft: Instilling a Growth Mindset

By Herminia Ibarra, Aneeta Rattan


When Satya Nadella took over as CEO of Microsoft in 2014, he inherited a firm fading toward irrelevance, plagued by internal fights and inertia. Earlier that year his wife, Anu, had given him a best-selling book by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck entitled Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, suspecting it might give Nadella some ideas for Microsoft. He adapted the idea to encourage employees to shift from Microsoft’s historical “know-it-all” culture to embrace a “learn-it-all” curiosity. The case study provides background on Nadella’s challenges and context, as well as how he and his leadership team executed their culture change effort.

Learning objectives

  1. Show a leader’s thought process on the need for culture change, with particular focus on the vision for change as a reflection of the life experiences of the leader.
  2. Detail the execution levers that Nadella and his team identified and used during the change process.
  3. Introduce the concept of organisational culture, focusing on the process of culture change and the role of leaders and their teams in reinforcing or transforming culture.
  4. Introduce the idea of “mindsets,” focusing on how they affect behaviour and reflect organisational culture, and what leaders can do to inculcate a growth mindset as a means of making cultural change and enhancing organisational performance.


Publication Date: June 2016
LBS Case Code: CS-18-008
Subjects: , , ,
Pages: 20
Format: pdf