The well-read CEO: Help or distraction?

Every CEO experience is shaped by the personal interests of the executive. One passion that might not immediately seem relevant–but could affect management style–is a love of literature. 

For an example, one can look at Microsoft and its current CEO Satya Nadella, who recently sent out a special email to his employees. The text of this can be seen on the official Microsoft website, and it covers a wealth of different topics, ranging from the ambition of the company to its worldview and culture.

The Washington Post reported on Nadella's fondness for dropping quotes from famous literature into his messages.

His sources include works as diverse as Umberto Eco and fantasy writer Lloyd Alexander, and he works them into both his internal and external communications.

This appears to date back to when he first moved into the role in January of this year, and it's therefore clearly part of his style and natural personality. More important than any particular references is this genuine display of what the CEO happens to find interesting, relevant, and helpful for other employees.

But could these kinds of references confuse rather than illuminate? It's all in how the CEO uses them. Writing for the Post, Jena McGregor considers the consequences of Nadella's method.

"Whether Nadella's literary quotes will help inspire Microsoft employees to 'transform as individuals' — and improve, as a result, the company he leads — is still a big question," she writes. "But they may at least help differentiate Nadella from his predecessor, Steve Ballmer." 

Your executive recruitment process should consider both personality quirks, like Nadella's penchant for literature, and more technical factors like experience level and industry knowledge.

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