Out-group and Diversity
Week 4 Assignment
Principles of Personal & Organizational Leadership
Marissa Mayer – Yahoo CEO
Marissa Mayer served as the president and CEO of Yahoo from 2012 to 2017. She recently filled in as Vice President of Google Search Products and User Experience. She has been criticized for her leadership since becoming Yahoo’s CEO in July 2012 and has been ranked the least likeable CEO. The official of right around 11,000 workers additionally earned the second-lowest rating of all public company CEOs (Mejia, 2017). Yahoo’s senior VP for communication products Jeff Bonforte was met by the New York Times and detailed that Mayer is the best manager he has ever had yet conceded that she was tightfisted with praise and sometimes showed a harshness that could be demoralizing (Goel, 2016). Mayer’s errors as a leader are similar to those most bosses make. When one individual makes the larger part of granular and key choices, it can hurt an organization’s performance and future.
Due to her failure to reignite growth at Yahoo, Mayer started reducing more than a third of the company’s workforce in August 2014 and employee fear paralyzed the company. She later approved lucrative retention packages to persuade people to reject job offers from other companies. This move created resentment among other Yahoo employees who have been loyal and did not look for jobs elsewhere. Employee disenchantment was also elevated due to Mayer’s protracted deliberations over a corporate reorganization that led to the departure of several key executives and the breakup of the mobile team, prompting many mobile engineers to seek other jobs (Goel, 2016). Many employees still loved the company, whose products were the gateway to the Internet for a generation of web users. Yahoo remained a popular website with over 1 billion monthly visitors.
Leaders Who Influenced Marissa Mayer
Mayer tried to lead Yahoo like Larry Page and Sergey Brin led Google in its early days. She said that “Larry and Sergey just yelled at us until we became what they needed us to become, and get done what they needed to be done”. She repeated the same style with “less yelling” (Gelles, 2018).
Leadership Dimension, Style, Challenge and Emotional Intelligence
Mayer was hired to reinvent and reinvigorate Yahoo with sound leadership based on her past connections with Google. Relationship is the key dimension since both companies are key stakeholders of the online Internet revolution, with Yahoo taking the initial lead.
Biggest Challenge Mayer Had to Face and Overcome
Leading a major business transformation for a new chief executive is challenging. Yahoo has to overcome two significant challenges: the downturn in advertising that has traditionally been its primary revenue source (coincidentally due to the emergence of Google) and the distraction inherent in trying to excel at many different things, from news and fantasy sports to web searches and email (Goel, 2016). Yahoo needs a leader who is creative and passionate about a new vision, and who strives to share that passion with everyone in the company. More specifically, Yahoo requires a transformational leader who can work with subordinates to identify change, to create a vision to guide the change, and to execute the change with workers. Transformational leadership may be directive or participative, authoritarian or democratic (Bass, 1999). Such a leadership style enhances motivation, morale, and job-performance of followers through several mechanisms such as:
connecting the follower’s sense of self-identity to the collective identity of the organization;
inspiring followers to take more interest in their work by challenging them to take on greater responsibilities;
matching the strengths and weaknesses of followers to tasks that enhance their performance.
Mayer’s trait or skill used to overcome this challenge
Sharp business acumen is a key trait in Mayer. She publicly highlighted many Yahoo achievements during her five-year tenure, including: creating $43 billion in market capitalization, tripling Yahoo stock, growing mobile users to over 650 million, building a $1.5 billion mobile ad business, and transforming Yahoo’s culture (Baron, 2017). The fact that she adopts the “yelling” culture from Google suggests she is also very passionate about what she does and shares that with her workers.
Degree of Mayer’s Success in Overcoming Challenge
Mayer was partially successful in overcoming the challenge for two main reasons. First, Mayer thought that by rebuilding something that worked once, it should be able to work again. However, the lesson she learned from Yahoo is that timing is everything. Even if she could make Yahoo’s products really good, regaining that contextual relevance that was afforded to Yahoo in 1999 and the early 2000s was difficult. Second, a new chief executive needs to build trust across all sections of the company, particularly the workgroup. This can be achieved using identity leadership by observing, understanding, and listening to the workgroup in order to comprehend the group culture for effective leadership (Haslam, Reicher, & Platow, 2010). Unfortunately, Mayer was not successful in integrating and bringing everyone on board, even though she has a clear vision and is passionate about it. She did not present herself as a member of the group. Representing the group is an essential prerequisite of leading a group.
Mayer’s Style of Leadership
Mayer demonstrates an authoritarian or autocratic leadership style because she employs direct supervision. Workers follow the her vision, even if they may not agree with the vision. Authoritarian leaders focus on efficiency and followers with different ideas may be seen as a hindrance to progress. Thus, an authoritarian leader controls discussion with followers and may create a climate of fear with little or no room for dialogue or complaints. In contrast, great leaders welcome challenges, criticism, and viewpoints other than their own. By ensuring that they are approachable, great leaders facilitate the flow of great ideas throughout the organization.
Provide specific examples for why you chose this style. Mayer consistently rebuffs dissenting and/differing opinions and exhibits a close-mindedness. She demanded that the company’s remote employees resume working from the office, routinely arrive late to meetings, and was called a micromanager by Yahoo insiders (Myatt, 2015).
Emotional Intelligence and Its Importance as a Leadership Skill
Emotional intelligence forms part of the transformational leadership style and is defined as the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions. It affects how humans manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions to achieve positive results. According to Brackett, Rivers, & Salovey (2011), emotional intelligence comprises four underlying emotional abilities, including managing, understanding, using, and perceiving emotion. Self-awareness is the foundation of emotional intelligence, a skill that 90% of top-performing leaders possess in abundance (Bradberry, 2015). High self-awareness requires a clear and accurate image of the leadership style, and effective strategies for leaning into the leader’s strengths and compensating for the weaknesses.
Model of Primary Leadership Skills and Its Components
The model of primary leadership skills can be subdivided into administrative, interpersonal, and conceptual components (Northouse, 2018). Administrative skills allow the leader to plan and organize work, including assigning tasks that match the right people and coordinating work activities. These skills are needed to run the organization and carry out its purposes. Specifically, administrative skills include managing people and resources, and demonstrating technical competence. For a leader to deal effectively with people requires a number of abilities such as helping employees to work as a team, motivating them to do their best, promoting cordial relationships among employees, and responding to their requests, including urgent matters. Great leaders are humble and do not allow their position of authority to make them feel that they are better than anyone else. As such, they will not hesitate to do the work when needed.
Managing resources requires a leader to be competent in obtaining and allocating resources. Obtaining resources may involve a broad range of activities such as ordering equipment, finding work space, or locating funds for special projects. Additionally, a leader may be required to allocate resources for new staff or new incentive programs, or to replace old equipment. While a leader may often engage staff members to assist in managing resources, the ultimate responsibility of resource management rests on the leader (Northouse, 2018).
Technical competence involves having specialized knowledge about the work we do or ask others to do, including understanding the complex aspects of how an organization functions (Northouse, 2018). A leader is more effective when he or she has the knowledge and technical competence about the activities subordinates are asked to perform. This can also be referred to as “functional competence” because it means a person is competent in a particular area of work, the area in which he or she is leading. A leader is not required to have technical competence in every situation.
Interpersonal or people skills are the competencies that a leader needs to work effectively with subordinates, peers, and superiors to accomplish the organization’s goals (Northouse, 2018). Research has shown that interpersonal skills are fundamental to effective leadership. Interpersonal skills can be divided into being socially perceptive, showing emotional intelligence, and managing interpersonal conflict. To successfully lead an organization towards change, a leader needs to be sensitive to how his or her ideas fit in with subordinates’ ideas. Social perceptiveness includes having insight into and awareness of what is important to others, how they are motivated, the problems they face, and how they react to change. It involves understanding the unique needs, goals, and demands of different organizational constituencies (Zaccaro, Gilbert, Thor, & Mumford, 1991). A leader with social perceptiveness has a keen sense of how employees will respond to any proposed change in the organization. Leadership is about change, and people in organizations often resist change because they like things to stay the same. Novel ideas, different rules, or new ways of doing things are often seen as threatening because they do not fit in with how people are used to things being done. A leader who is socially perceptive can create change more effectively if he or she understands how the proposed change may affect all the people involved. They fall under the category of emotionally intelligent people who understand emotions, their strengths and weaknesses, and are a good judge of character. They exhibit great social awareness and the ability to understand the motivations of other people, even those that lie hidden beneath the surface.
Whereas administrative skills are about organizing work and interpersonal skills are about dealing effectively with people, conceptual skills are about working with concepts and ideas (Northouse, 2018). Conceptual skills are cognitive skills that emphasize the thinking ability of a leader. Although these skills cover a broad range of competencies, conceptual skills can be divided into problem solving, strategic planning, and creating vision. A leader with conceptual skills is able to conceive and communicate the ideas that shape an organization from its goals and mission to the best ways to solve problems.
Importance of a Leader Following and Communicating a Vision and Setting the Tone
Mayer thinks you can have high expectations as a leader. As long as they are consistent and clearly communicated, a lot of people find that vision really inspiring (Gelles, 2018). Great leaders know that having a clear vision isn’t enough. That vision has to come alive so that followers can see it just as clearly as the leader, allowing them to internalize the vision and make it their own. Effective communication allow leaders to accomplish their goals and inspire people by speaking directly to their needs. In addition, leaders need to communicate effectively with their own board of directors, as well as with the public, stockholders, and other outside groups (Northouse, 2018). Setting the tone allows a leader to specify the expected outcomes from the vision and this relates to the sense of purpose. Whereas vision is a clear idea of the direction the leader is taking, a sense of purpose refers to an understanding of why the leader going there. Great leaders give people the feeling that they are part of something bigger than themselves.
Methods or Approaches Mayer Used to Become a Better Leader
A leader must pay attention to recruiting and retaining employees. Marissa Mayer hires people who are joining Yahoo for the right reasons and are aligned with the company’s mission. She made sure that Yahoo employees are fairly compensated, but not necessarily motivated by that compensation―the same “meet, not beat” strategy she used at Google (Gelles, 2018). In order to influence the group, she ensures that actions reflect group values and interest and so she is not lavish in praising a single person. She justifies all actions to promote the group’s benefit and deliver things that matter to the group. Mayer is a courageous leader who can make difficult decisions and will stay the course when things get tough. Leaders who lack courage simply toe the company line and follow the safest path (Bradberry, 2015).
Out-group Member Listening Skills, Conflict Handling, and Overcoming Obstacles
Leaders who are achievers recognize that ambiguities and conflicts may arise among people because individual interpretations of the same situation or event may differ (Rooke & Torbert, 2005). Thus, achievers take on a mediator role to eliminate conflicts. To minimize disputes, they know they need to approach relationships with sensitivity and be able to convince people to act positively. Embracing feedback is another positive characteristic of achievers. When an organization needs to implement a new strategy successfully, it will be desirable to have achievers in their teams.
Embracing Diversity and Inclusion Within the Organization
Some leaders treat each person as he or she would like to be treated. However, this assumes that all people are the same and ignores that people are motivated by vastly different things. To cater for diverse follower needs, the leadership style must adapt accordingly. Differential quality in the relationship between the leader and followers is the key to embrace diversity in the workplace. It is also the foundation of leader-member exchange (LMX) theory, which is a relationship-based approach to leadership that focuses on the two-way relationship between leaders and followers (Graen & Uhl-Bien, 1995). The primary assumption of LMX theory is that leaders establish relationships of differing quality with their subordinates. Some leaders may establish close relationships (high-quality LMX) while others do not (low-quality LMX) (Graen & Uhl-Bien, 1995).
Baron, E. (2017). Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer resigns, cites achievements by fallen firm as Verizon deal closes. The Mercury News.
Bass, B. (1999). “Two Decades of Research and Development in Transformational Leadership,” European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 8(1), pp. 9–32.
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Mejia, Z. (2017). Why Marissa Mayer is the ‘least likable’ CEO in tech. CNBC. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2017/05/31/why-yahoo-ceo-marissa-mayer-is-the-least-likable-ceo-in-tech.html
Myatt, M. (2015). Marissa Mayer: A case study in poor leadership. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/mikemyatt/2015/11/20/marissa-mayer-case-study-in-poor-leadership/#6b2ca4a73b46
Northouse, P. G. (2018). Introduction to Leadership: Concepts and Practice (4th ed.), SAGE Publications; Second Edition.
Rooke, D. & Torbert, W. R. (2005). Seven Transformations of Leadership. Harvard Business Review.