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Is Bill Gates a great leader?

How would you rate Bill Gates' leadership qualities?

commentary How would you rate Bill Gates' leadership qualities?

Both Gates, and the company he founded with mate Paul Allen, have come a long way since Microsoft's humble beginnings in 1975.

Fran Foo, ZDNet Australia managing editor

Ten years ago, Microsoft employed 20,561 people all over the world. Today, that figure stands at roughly 64,000. It continues to make billions in net income but its share price has been suffering, especially since a certain start-up called Google went public.

Over the years, Gates has been the public face of Microsoft. From spruiking MS-DOS to expressing the desire to "dominate" the Internet, he is, by far, the world's most famous nerd.

There's no question this uber geek has done very well for himself. After announcing that he hopes to step back from his full-time role at Microsoft, it's good to see that he plans to increase his involvement in charitable organisations (although Gates isn't as cool as Bono, the needy don't discriminate).

I didn't attend his last Sydney press conference (although a colleague did) ... needless to say, security was super tight and you couldn't enter without some form of identification (on that note, I wonder who has tighter security -- Gates or Bono?).

While Gates may not have the "wow" factor of a rock musician, there's something about this bloke that makes people stand up and take notice. Some of my mates in Redmond and other Microsoft offices, who have been in his presence before, liken him to a god (well, almost).

No, they don't say things like, "His code crunching prowess is awesome!" Rather, it's the real admiration of the man's achievements and how he carries himself (that's what they tell me at least). And although he's rated the world's richest man by Forbes magazine, with an estimated wealth of US$50 billion, somehow I don't think his money is the first thing that strikes them about Gates ... it seems there's genuine respect for him, and this is something of which not many CEOs share, unfortunately.

Do you think Bill Gates has done a good job running Microsoft? Is he a good leader in your eyes? Who do you think is Australia's Bill Gates? E-mail me at fran.foo@zdnet.com.au and share your thoughts or talkback below.

Fran Foo is ZDNet Australia managing editor.