Growing up in India, Satya Nadella fell in love with cricket, a sport whose grace comes from melding stars into a cohesive and harmonic team. “One brilliant character who does not put team first can destroy the entire team,” he wrote in his recent book, Hit Refresh.
Since becoming CEO of Microsoft in 2014, Nadella has used those principles to restore the company’s spirit of innovation. Consider its new product strategy, which emphasizes cloud computing and allowing people to collaborate across platforms. Nadella also preaches the importance of empathy and making products that work reliably, traits that deepened in him when his first child was born with brain damage and his son’s life depended on linked machines running Microsoft systems.
The result is that in the four years since he inherited a sticky wicket, Microsoft’s market value has increased 130%. More important, the company is now making products that feel more user-friendly, empathetic and collaborative.
Isaacson is a professor of history at Tulane University and a former managing editor of TIME