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Facebook was invented way back in 2004. Mark Zuckerberg is the CEO and co-founder of this social networking app. Since its inception, Facebook has recorded successful operations and even a movie shot about Facebook under his leadership (Frontier, 2010). Zuckerberg seems to have great leadership as evidenced by the successful operation of Facebook under his tenure. At the same time, he has also faced criticism for his leadership style and traits. In this paper, I aim to provide an overview of Mark Zuckerberg’s success and weaknesses with reference to his leadership styles and traits.
Zuckerberg possesses the ability to solve problems in the face of an issue especially the society’s ideas. When any new application is introduced to Facebook, users are often quick to provide criticism to the application. In most instances, it requires that Zuckerberg intervenes so as so to address the issue. An example is the introduction of the Newsfeed to Facebook. It brought about mixed reactions from the users. Quite a number were convinced that their consumer privacy rights had been infringed. Zuckerberg intervened by creating privacy options under Newsfeed for the users so that they can have a choice for their privacy terms. He addressed the issue in such a manner that both sides were satisfied with the decision. This depicts Zuckerberg’s high level of problem-solving traits. This is evidenced by Avery’s theories that a great leader should be a problem-solver and that every party should win (Avery, 2004).
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Mark Zuckerberg is hardworking and determined to achieve his goals as a CEO of Facebook. This is evidenced by the fact that he dropped out of school (Harvard) just to realize his dream of making his application a success. This has seen his company grow to a billion dollar worth social networking app (Frontier, 2010). This shows that he worked hard to ensure his company gets more users and still grow at the same time maintaining them. He is constantly unraveling new applications for Facebook which means he is not yet comfortable with the level he is right now. He works towards achieving his goals. This determination has been a motivation to his employees and followers. Leaders should motivate others to aspire to achieve more than they are expected to (Avery, 2004).
Zuckerberg is an ethical leader meaning he is honest about his application and is also interested in his users’ well-being. This is because Facebook has adhered to consumer privacy rights. Avery describes that leaders should be truthful and honest to their followers (Avery, 2004). Most if not all apps under Facebook show a certain level of users’ choice when it comes to their privacy terms. Before sharing information on the social networking app, the user has the option of choosing who they want seeing their information. Other applications like Path have gone through issues that have questioned their consumer privacy options. Zuckerberg on his side seeks to maintain his trust among the consumers thus creating a strong basis for that.
Mark Zuckerberg’s leadership style is a combination of transactional and transformational. According to Avery, transactional leadership allows interaction and exchange of ideas between leader and followers. The leader is the decision maker but incorporates the ideas of his followers in his decisions. The leader also negotiates the expectations of the followers with them (Avery, 2004). Zuckerberg has proven to be a transactional leader through various avenues. For example during the issue of the Newsfeed app where users were complaining that their privacy had been overlooked. He responded to this by creating a choice for privacy for the particular app. He addressed this issue and the followers were happy with the decision. He depicted his transactional leadership style here because he listened to the ideas of the public. In as much as he is the final decision-maker, he is still open to users’ ideas and he works towards including these ideas in his decision. He realizes that the consumer also have a say according to how Facebook operates. He also listens to the ideas of his employees and encourages debate among them for new innovation (Future of Working, 2016). Zuckerberg is a man who is open to ideas from all angles. He is more of a team worker in his leadership style. He is not ignorant of the advice given to him by other people (On Leadership, 2010).
Transformational leadership aims at pushing employees and followers to realize their full potential. A leader in this category forms a shared vision whose outcome is commitment from followers. Connecting with followers enables them to achieve goals and realize their potential. Such a leader is also capable of convincing people to change their style of doing things. Such leadership style is especially good for Zuckerberg because his app deals with a huge number of people (Sajjadi, Karimkhani & Mehrpour, 2014). Facebook invents new ideas for the application from time to time. Zuckerberg ensures that the apps gets embraced by users. The example of the Newsfeed is a representation of a situation where people were convinced to embrace new ideas. Zuckerberg managed to convince his users that the application was for the best and up to date it still exists. He did this by updating the consumer privacy options. Users embraced the new ideas and have such been transformed and evolved through it. Zuckerberg dropped out of school and has successfully built an empire that is, Facebook. Even so, he still working towards improving Facebook because he is not satisfied with his achievements yet. His character is a motivation to both the users and his employees. Most strive and work towards emulating him. Zuckerberg is always pushing his workers to achieve their full potential through encouraging new innovations. He encourages his workers to deliver a lot more than is expected of them. He is a leader that is open to experimentation of his ideas, which is a strength for any transformational leader (Future of Working, 2016). These leadership styles and traits presents discussion board for weaknesses and strength.
Evaluation of Leadership Style and Traits
Zuckerberg’s leadership style and traits has its own fair share of strength and weaknesses. He has been fully open to ideas from other people and employees or colleagues. According to On Leadership, Zuckerberg’s style of being open to ideas and associating with employees will be the cause of his downfall. His team-building style will ruin Facebook in the long term. They explains that too much networking depicted by Zuckerberg will lead to bad decisions and the beginning of an end to an empire. These bad decisions are caused by listening to ideas from just anyone. He suggests that a leader should have few people that surround him and who give sound advice. On Leadership explains that heeding to bureaucracy is not a great leadership skill. Zuckerberg’s age is the reason why he does not take charge of the company and therefore he needs a mentor to guide him through his leadership journey (On leadership, 2010). On the bright side, Facebook has evolved a lot and has been successful in its operations. His invention and experimentation of new ideas has seen Facebook grow in its users even among adults. His leadership style and traits has seen Facebook become a platform for connecting and communicating with the whole world (Bailey & May, 2014). Zuckerberg does not treat his workers gently but keeps them on their toes (Lesley, 2012). In my opinion, this enables the leader to get results from the employees. He has a result-oriented team behind him because of the numerous innovations under Facebook since its inception. This has seen the new ideas from Facebook lead to its successful operation. The good coming out of the leadership style and trait is more than the weaknesses. Most of his weaknesses are just speculation. For example, On Leadership suggests that Zuckerberg will fail if he does not become keen on the intentions of the people he seeks advice from. The good is evidenced from the fact that Facebook is still in operation after over 10 years since its inception. More new ideas are being incorporated in the application to make it a better one.
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The leadership style and trait depicted by Mark Zuckerberg has helped in maintaining the success of Facebook. It has witnessed adoption of new ideas and consequently embrace by users. The strengths of this Mark’s leadership shadow his weaknesses. His leadership style should be emulated by other social networking application CEOs. In the same way, Zuckerberg also needs a mentor from whom he can learn excellent leadership styles and traits.
- Avery, G.C. (2004). Understanding Leadership: Paradigms and Cases. London: Sage Publications.
- Bailey, B., & May, P. (2014). Facebook at 10: Zuckerberg Pushing for Change. The Mercury News.
- Frontier, J. (2010). Facebook’s Leadership: Dissecting Mark Zuckerberg. The Washington Post.
- Future of Working. (2016). 6 Mark Zuckerberg’s Leadership Style Traits. Retrieved from futureofworking.com/6-mark-zuckerberg-leadership-style-traits/
- Lesley, C.T. (2012). Job at Facebook Not for Sensitive Types. Toronto Star.
- On Leadership. (2010). Facebook’s Leadership: Time for an update? The Washington Post.
- Sajjadi, A., Karimkhani, M., & Mehrpour. M. (2014). New Emerging Leadership Theories and Styles. Technical Journal of Engineering and Applied Sciences.