Thursday, April 7, 2011

Meg Whitman’s Successful Leadership Style

We are currently talking about the different types of leadership styles that work within organizations. These styles that are mentioned in the Path Goal Theory of Leadership are directive, supportive, participative, and achievement-orientated. Some people believe you have to be born with the necessary traits to become a successful leader but this isn’t necessarily true. Yes, some of the traits of a leader are difficult to enhance or change if your personality doesn’t fit. This doesn’t mean you can’t be a successful leader if you don’t possess all of these traits. There are numerous amounts of leaders that have developed leadership skills throughout their lives.

Meg Whitman, CEO of EBay, started her career by learning from numerous companies. She was often the new employee in many organizations. She began her career in brand management at Proctor & Gamble. This is where she learned the very valuable listen that customers come first. Then, Whitman went on to be a business management consultant for Bain. Bain was a decentralized environment. Meg Whitman learned that collaborating with others is a better way to get things done then controlling your employees. All of these experiences helped Whitman acquire these valuable traits of listening, learning, collaboration, and building relationships. She learned that one must influence people to be a successful leader.

Meg Whitman took these valuable lessons that she learned and put them into affect at EBay. She became the CEO of EBay in 1988. Revenue has grown from 5.7 million to 4.7 billion in 2005.

You may ask yourself how has she done this?

Meg Whitman is a firm believer in influencing relationships with her employees and not controlling them. There are three leadership strands that Whitman uses at her job as CEO of EBay. First, she realizes she cannot control the buyers and sellers of EBay. Second, Whitman feels that people are basically good, so trust them. This shows us that Whitman is a supportive leader. One who emotionally supports her employees and treats them with care and respect. Whitman says, "Our Company is built and managed on validation.” Third, don’t assume that you know everything. Whitman is also a participative leader. She listens and lets her employee’s voice there say in meetings and important decisions within the company. Whitman also believes you must travel and learn from different countries. You can never learn too much. Meg Whitman is a very knowledgeable leader.

Meg Whitman is a prime example of a leader that developed her leadership traits throughout her career to become a successful leader in one of the top companies in the world. Meg Whitman was a very charismatic leader who used her influenced others rather than forcing them to come to work every day. Therefore; Meg Whitman is a well respected leader of eBay.
If you were to become a successful leader in the future, what qualities would you possess and what type of leadership style would you likely portray to your employees?

Posted By: Mitchell Terry


  1. Meg Whitman’s approach to leadership of building strong relationships with her employees, and believing that people generally good in a supportive leadership style has led EBay to an immense amount of success. This success is clearly indicated as when you stated EBay’s revenue growth from 5.7 million in 1988, or when she became CEO, to 4.7 billion in 2005. Meg Whitman withholds many outstanding traits that can be attributed to EBay’s success as she values listening, learning, collaboration, and building relationships with employees. I believe that these traits are necessary for the success of CEO’s and their organizations in any industry. On the other hand, I still think that leadership qualities and styles vary based on the type of industry a CEO finds him or herself, although Meg’s qualities have proved to be successful for EBay. EBay is in the innovative ecommerce industry, so the leadership qualities and styles demonstrated by Meg are necessary in order for her employees to think creatively. However, I believe leaders in, for example, a developed manufacturing industry need to be more task-oriented with a rational process of decision making. I believe this is true because in a mature industry there is not much room for further creativity and innovative thinking by others. Leaders in an established industry require qualities that are related to making well informed and conservative decisions based upon the rational decision making process. In a mature manufacturing industry leaders are more directive in their approach in order to improve the efficiency of their processes and lower costs. All in all, I believe that a leadership approach depends on the type of industry one finds themself. In summary, leaders in a developed industry must take a directive style over their employees, and in an innovative industry leaders need to take on the role of being supportive and participative. Meg Whitman’s style of leadership and decision making are perfect for the industry her organization is in and can truly be linked to the success of EBay.

    -Zach Seibel

  2. It was good to hear of a leader that really gained a lot of her leadership skills through past experiences. I feel many of the transformational leaders we have discussed in our blogs thus far have been more of born leaders. In contrast, Meg Whitman gained valuable knowledge and experiences from her prior careers. She seems to be very people oriented and leads through supportive leadership. I am intrigued if the culture at Ebay is reflected by her leadership style. If this is the case, one could infer that Ebay currently has more of a people oriented culture. Meg's leadership style in which she supports her fellow employees and treats them all with respect does seem very people oriented. It would make sense that Ebay would put such a leader into power to match their particuilar people oriented culture. Ebay has been on of the most successful organizations out there so her supportive leadership style is clearly heading the company in the right direction.

    Jason Dangles

  3. Thus, there should be some training =CONCATENATE("";J175"") or a book based on this. I would like to know about it in more detail.


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