Describe about the leadership skills and styles of the 21st century leaders and CEOs in a global context?
The report deals with the evaluation of the leadership skills and styles of the 21st century leaders and CEOs in a global context. For the purpose of evaluation, the report focuses on the leadership success story of Larry Page, the present CEO of Google and the co founder. The report initially shows the advantages availed by Larry by adopting transformational, charismatic and transactional leadership style. However, in the later part the report forecasts the weaknesses of each style theory by focusing on some strategic suggestions of the CEO of Google. Hence, the report shows a compact analysis of the styles, attitudes, behavior and traits of Larry Page and the alternative solutions to the problems faced by him.
Leadership is the power to persuade subordinates to comply to the rules and directions willingly and behave in a preferred manner (Ocker et al. 2011).The organizational leaders should exert their common sense in order to solve the conflicting situations within the organization and direct the employees towards the attainment of the goals. The report focuses on the leadership style and attitude adopted by one of the most successful leaders of 21st century – Larry Page, the present CEO of Google Inc. The report further evaluates the alternative leadership styles that the leaders could have adopted for further integrating the organizational plans.
2. Description of the leader
Larry Page, the present operating CEO of Google Inc was one of the co founders of the internet company along with Sergey Brin. As per the Forbes, Google and its services is a sole creation of Larry Page and Brin assisted him in structuring the company. According to Keskes (2014) the adoption of the leadership skills like empowering of employees, situational approach to innovation and high degree of patience has helped Page in successfully designing the management structure of Google and has fetched him the title of “50 highest rates CEOs” by Glass door’s annual CEO survey.
Assessment of the personal traits of Page shows that he is introvert in nature. Drew (2010) argued for effective management of the internal organizational politics extrovert style is a desired trait within an organizational leader. However, in case of management of proactive employees, an introvert leader fits the situation more appropriately. Since Google accounts for employees who are engaged in practical and innovative jobs, hence the introvert nature of Page will help him to be a good listener and inspire the creativity within the employees. As per the Fortune, Google’s success depends upon the following leadership strategies of Page:
- To pay attention to the innovative ideas and use the best opportunities to implement them
- To concentrate on team work
- To avoid use of bureaucracy
- To adopt a quick and concise work structure
- To recognize the importance of small changes within the organization (Elmer, 2011)
3. Analysis of the organization
Google Inc is an American multinational corporation co founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1998. Initially developed as a system to measure the conventional search engines ranking, the company was further developed for analyzing the relationships between websites. With around 53,600 employees, Google Inc has been ranked as the best working place by the Fortune. Page adopted an independent thinking attitude for management of the employees within Google. The adoption of 70-20-10 norm within the organizational model helped Page to reduce the employee turnover to 0% (Hof et al.2015).
Page and his employees pay low attention to the competitors and are more engaged with development of the Google products. The huge range of employee benefits, the presence of Transformational leadership and the absence of any supervision techniques within Google has made it the most desirable company for all individuals with creative ability (Ayman and Korabik, 2010).
4. Adverse leadership styles
Although Larry Page is named as the best CEO however the early management styles and some of the organizational decisions adds to the criticisms of Page in effective management of Google. Firstly, Page in his initial years attempted to discard the system of supervision. He wanted to implement a system of self-sufficiency within the Google workings that created a chaos and increased the time for job completion within the organization (Pihlak and Alas, 2012). Secondly, in an attempt to develop the search engine of Google more effectively, Page created a situation of work pressure for the engineers of Google paying low or no attention to the other management team. Thus, the aggressive and product focus leadership of Page resulted in downfall of Page’s CEO career. The management of Google’s teams and introduction of IPO and other employee benefits were done by the next operating CEO Eric Schmidt. After long break in the year 2011 page was again elected as the CEO of Google (Avolio et al. 2008).
5. Evaluation of the leader
5.1 Leadership styles
Charismatic style: Singh (2013) opined that Charismatic leaders are the individuals motivated by passion for establishing of an innovative vision in future. The visionary speeches and motivations of Page directed towards the employees of Google makes him a charismatic leader for the company. Even during the tenure of Eric Schmidt, employees in Google depended on Page for the approval of their innovative ideas. McCleskey (2014) suggested that Charismatic leaders offer grand visions and innovative solutions for achievement of the visions. Thus, the style adopted by Page helped him to make Google the unique company in its genre. The employee base of Google shows that the top-level managers appointed by Page at present has the financial as well as intellectual capability to build their own companies, however they are still working with Google because of the charismatic visions and style of Page.
However, Sadri (2012) argued that this style gives rise to a sense of reliance on the leaders for any decision and lack of future danger prospective. In this regard employees of Google especially the engineers working solely on the instructions of Page relies absolutely on Page for their projects. Although the company gives a scope for innovative idea generation, however approval of Page is assumed a correct decision always, disregarding the other top-level managements. Moreover, this style may threaten the future of Google since there is no assurance that another Charismatic leader will succeed Page.
Transformational style: The individuals exhibiting transformational leadership styles, designs the visions according to the changing transformations within the organizations and motivate the employees to formulate creative strategies (Binsiddiq and Alzahmi, 2013). Page has adopted four steps of transformations leadership namely idealized influence, inspirations and motivations, brain stimulation and personalized considerations.
Page has introduced the system of mail to the managers asking them to summarize the projects they are working on so that he gets an idea of the current workings within Google. For enhancing the inspirations and motivations, Page has introduced the 70-20-10 module that gives the employees an opportunity to spend 10% of their time for personal activities. Moreover, Page has also designed the vision of driver-less cars in order to inspire the employees of Google (Johnson et al. 2012). In order to stimulate the intellectual ability of the employees, page has suggested that the managers should refrain from working in laptops all the time and should rather work on papers or any other materials that provokes their innovativeness. In order to implement personalized considerations for the employees, Page has ordered the senior level managers to work along with the employees and interact with them on a daily basis in order to create a comfortable working environment for them.
Transactional style: As per the Weber’s theory, transactional leadership style may be defined as the leadership style on an individual where the leader focuses on the role of supervision, organization and group performance (Kurland et al. 2010). By adopting the transactional style, Page ensures that the employees demonstrate the right kind of behaviors since adequate resources are being provided to the employees. Northouse (2012) suggested that transactional leaders adopt three major parameters namely contingent rewards, active management and passive management.
Larry Page uses contingent reward approach to provide incentives and employee benefits like the title of “employee of the month” to the high performing employees. Further by adopting the skills of active and passive management Page gives work freedom to the employees without interfering in their decisions until he foresees any future conflict or threatening situation.
5.2 Leadership traits and skills
According to Lo et al. (2010) for effective management of the employees and the different management teams within an organization the leaders are required to possess the leadership skills namely goal orientation, management of conflicts, negotiation power, problem solving ability, improvement of creativity, team building and making performance evaluation of the employees.
Motivational style: Motivation is the major factor influencing the productivity of the employees within an organization. Boyatzis (2008) commented that as per Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory, the employees can be motivated effectively with the help of non monetary benefits rather than only monetary benefits. Larry structures the motivational factors in accordance to the aspects of Maslow’s needs theory and Herzberg’s Two-factor theory. As per Maslow’s theory Page designs non-monetary incentives like family allowance for new parents, free personalized meals, gym facilities, Travel insurance, retirement benefits etc. Further keeping in mind Herzberg’s theory Page has devised strategies to remove the dissatisfaction factors from within Google.
People skills: Beer and Finnström (2009) commented that sense of empathy and positivity towards the employees and team members helps the leaders to develop the correct people skill for effective connection with them at an emotional level. Larry shows empathetic nature towards the needs of the employees because he believes that treating employees like a family member will increase their productivity. The company has introduced “no smoking initiatives” and “increased health benefits” to enhance the health conditions of the employees. Moreover, adoptions of open communication channels has been helping Page in successfully determining the problems of the employees and formulate necessary solutions.
Introvert nature: Introvert nature within a leader makes the leader more reflective, deep thinker and makes the leader more employee-friendly and approachable (Groves and LaRocca, 2011). Although it has been argued by Steinbauer et al. (2014) extrovert leaders are more successful. However, the recent surveys shows that introvert nature of a leader may act as an added advantage especially for proactive employees. The introvert and shy nature of Page makes him the appropriate leader for Google. The employees find him more engaged with the teamwork rather than being judgmental and dominating in nature. The introvert nature of Page helps him to focus on the product innovation rather on the competitor analysis. This triggers the future growth of Google. Moreover, Lo et al. (2010) added that introvert leaders are patient listeners. Being a good listener Page is able to identify the idea problems of the employees or is able to generate a new project idea. However, shy and unsocial nature of Page deprives him from the opportunity to become a media spokesperson and hinders the promotional strategies of Google. Moreover, introvert leaders lack the capability of solving internal employee conflicts.
Visionary skills: For the growth and future success of a company it is required that, the leaders should possess suitable visionary skills (Keskes, 2014). Goal orientation depends upon the visions and perfect execution of the visions. Page demonstrates high visionary skills in setting SMART goals for his engineers. Qualities like self-inspiration, high level of optimism, personal responsibility of organization’s actions, action orientation, skills of integrity and honesty and considering all adverse situations as a winning circumstance, makes Page a good visionary.
5.3 Leadership behavior
The behavior of a leader is ascertained by the Leadership Grid concept introduced by Robert Blake and Jane Mouton in 1950. The grid shows two behavioral dimensions namely concern for production and concern for people. Boyatzis (2008) suggests that a leader putting high emphasis on any one of the dimension may hinder the growth of the organization. On assessing Larry Page’s leadership behavior it was found that the leadership style adopted by Page falls in the “middle of the road” grid of the leadership grid. Hence, it can be suitably said that Page manages both production and people simultaneously however the score is low for both the dimensions suggesting that for future growth prospective Page has to develop his leadership behavior.
Figure 1: Leadership grid
(Source: Ayman and Korabik, 2010, pp- 96)
5.4 Personality Traits
The big five personality traits define the appropriate personal skills that a leader should possess in order to avoid any criticism and focus totally on the organizational growth. According to Boyatzis (2008) the presence of the five factors namely openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism has an individual to become a strong leader. The personality trait analysis of Page shows that he lacks one of the factors in the OCEAN strategy. Page is regarded to be introvert in nature lacking the ability to socialize with the team members and employees. However, the presence of high degree of agreeableness and openness to experience has made Page successful in his Endeavour.
6. Alternative recommendation for leadership styles
Evaluation of the current leadership styles and personality traits of Larry Page shows that for further grooming of the employees and secure the future of Google from any upcoming competition, Page can adopt some of the following recommended alternatives.
Change in leadership style: Charismatic style of Page is making the employees over dependent. However keeping the traits of open communication and innovativeness, if Page adopts the participative leadership style then he will be able in successfully generating more leaders within Google. Moreover, charismatic leadership may give rise to narcissism within the leader and if the narcissism not used in a productive way then the idea and vision of the leader may remain unfulfilled. Hence, Page should effectively adopt the situational and adaptive traits within his leadership style. Google being an internet company, Page will have to change his policies frequently with the changing situations. Adoption of a charismatic leadership style will make him responsible for any future mishaps. However, adoption of participative style will help Page to share the risks along with the team members.
Improvements in the leadership behavior: At present, the leadership behavior of Page is in the middle of the road grid of the leadership grid. For effective management of both production and employees Page should adopt the role of Team management within the grid. Adoption of this leadership style will help Page to effectively control the employees and get maximum possible productivity from them.
Changes in motivational focus: Page has concentrated highly on the non-monetary benefits and employee perks for the purpose of motivation. However, the Glass door’s pay scale structure shows that employees in Google are paid less than many other Silicon Valley firms. Hence, Page should also concentrate on the monetary structure within the organization if he wishes to retain the exclusive engineers in the future.
Profit optimization: Page is focused more on the product innovation and invention rather on the revenue of the organization. An ideal leader needs to focus on productivity as well as the financial stability of the organization. Page’s disinterest in the financial management has resulted in revenue drop of Google. Thus, page should adopt an overall management strategy in order to secure the future of Google.
The report shows the pros and cons of the different leadership styles in the practical implications made by one of the most successful CEO of the 21st century – Larry Page. From the analysis of the skills and styles adopted by Page it can be concluded that in the present situations although Google is facing certain problems still Page has been able to effectively retain the employees and increase their productivity. However, with the rapid changing business situations it is advisable that the recommended styles and traits may be adopted so that Google remain the market leader.
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