Meg Whitman Leadership Case Study

Topics: Leadership, EBay, Management Pages: 6 (2252 words) Published: October 21, 2011
PhD Bruce Avolio (2009) spent 50 years collecting data on the topic of whether leaders are born or made. In his findings, he discovered that most psychologist believe that the qualities needed to be a leader are innate and cannot be learned, however he and his contemporaries disagree. Based on various interviews, they found that parents were able to give the children the initial tools needed to lead. Parents would encourage their children to set challenging goals and should they fail, parents were able to turn it into a lesson of how to win next time. Reflecting on the sports of my own son, I can agree with this point of view. Whenever his team did not win or he did not play his best, we would identify areas of improvement he could work on for the next game. Avolio and his colleagues were able to identify techniques to help those who aren’t born leaders, become a leader: “Visualize obstacles; set goals and find someone who will hold you accountable to them; seek and incorporate feedback from colleagues; reflect on your best and worst moments; train gradually; broaden your model of leadership to include a full range of styles; and honor high ethical standards.” (Avolio, 2009) These are qualities held by Meg Whitman, former CEO of eBay. Although there are many types of leadership models, we will discuss Transactional, Authentic and Transformational leadership. They are defined as such: 1. Transactional leadership involves motivating and directing a group, through the pleasing of their own self-interest. 2. The Authentic leader is one who (A) not only knows them self, but also understands them self, (B) Is familiar with their own belief system and values and (C) Uses open and honest communication with subordinates and others when acting on their values and beliefs. 3. The Transformational leader can anticipate the future, encourage followers to embrace a new idea, develop new supporters and create them into leaders as well as guide the organization into a community of brave yet rewarded learners. (Hellriegel & Slocum Jr, 2010) Transaction Leadership

As stated by Don Hellriegel and John Slocum (2010) Transactional Leadership entails motivating and directing a group, through the pleasing of their own self-interest. It’s kind of like dangling a carrot; you set the expectations and goals, while providing feedback and rewards. A Transactional leader’s power comes from their official role in the company; their primary focus is controlling, organizing and planning. They have identified three components that are viewed as prompting the followers to achieve recognized performance goals. These components consist of: 1. Provide Contingent rewards: Although eBay’s work environment is casual and fun, they are strictly about business in a cheerful and informal way. Meg Whitman has made it apparent that expectations of employees are high. Employees are rewarded through reorganization; they have the opportunity to look forward to new challenges on a regular basis. This could be considered a contingent reward because the leader has set and clearly defined goals to be obtained, in a short amount of time. In addition, Meg decided early on the direction she wants the company to take. By identifying the path early, Meg was able to acquire other businesses that would promote growth for eBay and fit the core of the business. 2. Exhibit active management by exception: Transactional leaders actively monitor the work performed by their subordinates. At eBay, they look for people who are energized by the mission alone. The employees are given a chance to become acclimated to the company; through close monitoring employees are well managed and focused on high-impact projects. 3. Emphasize passive management by exception: With such emphasizes being placed on employees understanding the nature of their position and the accountability expectations, Meg Whitman and the management team at eBay, does not allow for deviations from the company’s...

References: Avolio, B. (2009, June 5). Are leaders born or made? Retrieved May 19, 2010, from Psychology Today:
Hellriegel, D., & Slocum Jr, J. W. (2010). Organizational Behavior. Mason: Cengage Learning.
Meyers, W. (2005, October 31). Keeping a gentle grip on power. Retrieved May 19, 2010, from U.S. News:
Sellers, P. (2004, Retrieved from Business Source Premier database.). eBay 's secret (cover story). Fortune , pp. 150(8), 160-178.
Sexton, T. (2007, February 20). eBay 's Meg Whitman: america 's greatest CEO? Retrieved May 19, 2010, from Associated Content:
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