BUS 119 Week 5 Final Assignment

Marissa Mayer as a Leader

Week 5 Assignment

BUS 119 Principles of Personal & Organizational Leadership

Marissa Mayer as a Leader

In this paper, we evaluate the key attributes that define leadership and associate some of these attributes with a real-life CEO. Great leaders see more in their followers than they see in themselves, and help these followers realize their potential and talents. These leaders are dynamic and have big dreams. Effective leadership blends a variety of unique skills into an integrated whole to accomplish great things. Such leadership is not about forcing people to do things but inspiring them to want to do things. According to John Quincy Adams, the outcomes of leadership can be stated as “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader”.

Marissa Mayer – Yahoo CEO

Marissa Mayer served as the president and chief executive officer of Yahoo from 2012 to 2017. She previously served as vice president of Google Search Products and User Experience. She has been widely criticized for her leadership since becoming Yahoo’s chief executive in July 2012 and has been ranked the least likable CEO. The executive of almost 11,000 employees also earned the second-lowest rating of all public company CEOs (Mejia, 2017). Yahoo’s senior vice president for communications products Jeff Bonforte was interviewed by the New York Times and reported that Mayer is the best boss he has ever had but admitted that she was tightfisted with praise and sometimes displayed a harshness that could be demoralizing (Goel, 2016). Mayer’s mistakes as a leader are similar to those most bosses make. When one person makes the majority of granular and strategic decisions, it can hurt a company’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 gave rise to resentment amongst other loyal Yahoo employees who were not looking 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 for a generation of web users were the gateway to the internet. Yahoo has remained a popular site with more than 1 billion visitors per month.

Characteristics of Leadership

Marissa Mayer had many great leadership traits. Some traits that really stand out are her passion, communication, and her ability to motivate people. Marissa has passion for what she did. She worked day in and day out 13 to 14 hours per day. Often times responding to email at midnight. On average she would only sleep about 4 hours before getting up to start her day again. A person cannot have that kind of energy every day without having the passion that the product and brand can possibly change the world.

Marissa was also known for her great communications skills. As an authoritative person, she speaks as an engineer who has the ability to connect with everyone. She has a vast amount of expertise behind her, yet she has been able to spin it in a way that connects with other people, and that’s what so many people in technology cannot do. They are not able to make that transition and really connect with a variety of different audiences like she can (Gallo, 2012).

Mayer felt that her staff was worth more than just a paycheck. She took pride in her staff and it showed. One example of this was while at Google she wanted to make sure everyone was heard and everyone had a voice. She set aside time at 4pm every day, for about 90 minutes where employees had the chance the speak with her one on one on a first come first come basis to discuss ideas and give feedback on projects.

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.

Leading a major business transformation for a new chief executive is challengingYahoo has two major challenges to overcome: the downturn in advertising that has traditionally been its primary source of revenue( coincidentally due to Google’s emergence) and the distraction inherent in trying to excel in many different ways, from news and fantasy sports to web searches and emails( 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, create a vision to guide change and implement change with employees.

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.

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, it was difficult to regain the contextual relevance that Yahoo had in 1999 and the early 2000s. 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 various ideas can be seen as an obstacle to progress. An authoritarian leader, therefore, controls discussions with followers and can create a climate of fear with little or no room for conversation. In contrast, great leaders welcome challenges, criticism but not their own beliefs. By providing them, great leaders throughout the organization facilitate the flow of great ideas. Mayer consistently rejects dissent and/or differences of opinion and shows closeness. She requested that the remote employees of the company resume their work from the office, arrive late at meetings and be 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 concerned with a person’s ability to understand his or her own and others’ emotions, and then to apply this understanding to life’s tasks (Northouse, 2018). It affects the way people manage actions, navigate social complexities, and make personal choices for results. If a leader is emotionally intelligent, he/she can benefit the organization. Leaders often act as agents of change, and if they know how others react emotionally to change, they can anticipate it and plan the most appropriate ways to introduce and implement the change. When a leader has emotional intelligent they do not take things personal and can, therefore, plan ahead without needing to worry about their egos. According to Brackett, Rivers, & Salovey (2011), emotional intelligence comprises four underlying emotional abilities, including managing, understanding, using, and perceiving emotion. Self- awareness is the basis of emotional intelligence, a skill abundantly possessed by 90% of top- performing leaders (Bradberry, 2015). High self-awareness requires a clear and accurate image of the leadership style and effective strategies to build on the strengths of the leader and to compensate 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 enable the leader to plan and organize work, including tasks matching the right people and coordinating work. These skills are necessary to run and fulfill the organization’s goals. Specifically, administrative skills include managing people and resources, and demonstrating technical competence. A leader needs a number of skills to deal effectively with people, such as helping employees work as a team, motivating them to do their best, promoting cordial relations between employees and responding to their demands, including urgent matters. Great leaders are humble and do not allow their position of authority to make them feel better than anybody else. They will not hesitate to do the work when necessary.

Managing resources requires a leader to be competent in obtaining and allocating resources. Resources can be obtained through a wide range of activities, such as ordering equipment, finding workspace or finding funds for various projects. Additionally, a leader may be required to allocate or replace old equipment for new staff or incentive programs. Although a leader can often involve employees in the management of resources, the ultimate responsibility for resource management lies with the leader (Northouse, 2018).

Technical competence having expertise in the work we do or ask others to do, including understanding the complex aspects of how an organization works ( Northouse, 2018). A leader is more efficient if he or she has the knowledge and technical expertise of the subordinate activities. This can also be referred to as’ functional competence,’ as it means that a person has competence in a specific area of work in which he or she leads. It is not a requirement for a leader to have technical competence in all circumstances.

Interpersonal or people skills are the skills a leader needs to work effectively with subordinates, peers, and superiors in order to achieve the objectives of the organization (Northouse, 2018). Research has shown that interpersonal skills for effective leadership are fundamental. Interpersonal skills can be divided into social perception, emotional intelligence and conflict management. To lead an organization successfully to change, a leader needs to be sensitive to how his or her ideas fit into the ideas of subordinates. Social perception includes an understanding of what is important to others, how motivated they are, 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 socially perceptive leader has a strong sense of how employees react to any proposed changes in the organization. Leadership is about change, and people in organizations often resist change because they like things to stay the same. New ideas, different policies or new ways of doing things are often considered to be threatening because they do not match the way people are used to doing things. A socially perceptive leader can bring about change more efficiently if he or she understands how the proposed change can affect all involved people. They fall under the category of emotionally intelligent people who understand emotions, strengths, and weaknesses and who are a good judge of character. They show great social awareness and the ability to understand other people’s motivations, including those hidden under the surface.

While administrative skills are to organize work and interpersonal skills are to deal with people effectively, conceptual skills are to work with concepts and ideas (Northouse, 2018). Conceptual skills are cognitive skills which underline a leader’s thinking ability. While these skills cover a wide variety of competencies, conceptual skills can be divided into problem-solving, strategic planning and vision creation. A conceptual leader can conceive and share ideas that shape an organization from its goals and mission to the best way to solve problems.

Importance of a Leader Following and Communicating a Vision and Setting the Tone

Great leaders know it’s not enough to have a clear vision. This vision must come alive so that the followers can see it as clearly as the leader and make it their own. Effective communication allow leaders to accomplish their goals and inspire people by speaking directly to their needs. Furthermore, leaders must communicate effectively with their own boards of directors, the public, stockholders and other external 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 take care of the recruitment and retention of 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 brave leader who can make hard decisions and stay the course when things get hard. “Leaders who lack courage simply toe the company line and follow the safest path” (Bradberry, 2015).

Listening Skills, Conflict Handling, Embracing Diversity, Ethical Leadership

“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 individual as he or she wants to be treated. This assumes, however, that everyone is the same and ignores the fact that people are motivated by very 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).

Ethical Leadership

Ethical leadership is guided by respect for ethical beliefs and values and for other people’s dignity and rights. Ethical leaders are characterized as honest, caring and balanced decision- makers (Brown & Treviño, 2006). Ethical leaders are proactive role models for ethical behavior and often communicate with their followers about ethics, set clear ethical standards and use rewards and punishments to uphold them.

Mayer’s Unethical Leadership

Mayer is probably unethical because she did not make balanced decisions to fire or retain employees. Ethical and authentic leaders are transparent and forthcoming. The Yahoo employees have to spend time figuring out the motive of her next move in the corporate reorganization, thereby eroding their confidence in her and in their ability to execute their duties.


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