Leadership Case Study
Leadership is a valuable skill that some of us are born with, but majority gain it through experience. Chemers (1997) describes leadership as a practical skill and research area that encompasses the ability to lead others. This could be on an individual or organisational level. Existing literature on leadership is awash with diverse viewpoints as regards this topic. It is important to note that approaches to leadership differ from one setting to another. For example, Chin (2015) describes leadership as the ability to influence others in a social setting through enabling them to accomplish certain activities. This definition is more aligned to an academic context. From a non-academic perspective, a leader is often associated with a yearning for personal power and communitarian goal (Chemers, 1997). An effective leader is one who has the potential to influence his/her followers in such a manner as to achieve desired goals. Leadership can be described as a social influence process that enables the leader to appeal to the discretionary contribution of subordinates in a bid to realise organisation goals (Trevisani, 2015). Therefore, a leader can be described as an individuals who influences or delegates to others to act and achieve specified objectives. In an increasingly competitive business environment, there is a dire need to have effective leaders who are in tune with the rapidly changing business environment. We have various styles of leadership and characteristics that successful leaders have been shown to manifest.
The premise of this paper is to explore the characteristics and leadership style of Susan Wojcicki, the CEO (chief executive officer) of YouTube. The second section of the paper shall be dedicated to identifying and discussing my area of development in the hotel industry in my quest to become an effective leader. An MBTI Personality Type Test will also be conducted to assist with the analysis. Numerous studies of leadership have led to the emergence of various theories that encompasses situation interaction, traits, behaviour, function, visions, charisma, power, intelligence and value, among others (2). Nevertheless, for purposes of this paper, we shall only dwell on a few of these traits: vision, integrity, Persuasiveness, creativity, and persistence. After identifying each of these traits, an effort shall be made to demonstrate how Susan Wojcicki has demonstrated these traits in her glorious career at Google, spanning nearly two decades.
Susan Wojcicki’s Leadership Traits
Susan Wojcicki is the current CEO of YouTube. Prior to that, she was senior vice president of advertising at Google. Under her tutelage, the company’s advertising revenue rose steadily over the years, to a high of $ 43 billion in 2012. She also helped the company acquire other businesses, key among them being YouTube, which she would later on head as the CEO. Her success at Google in a career spanning 18 years is largely attributed to her leadership straits that will be examined in-depth below.
One of the key characteristics of successful leaders is the ability to motivate others as it is regarded as a true mark of an effective leader. Inspiring others is best accomplished by guidance and example, as opposed to giving command (Howell, 2012). Wojcicki advises employees and hundreds of job-seekers who seek her invaluable advice that they should aspire to join an organisation whose products they believe in. This is based on her personal experience at Google. Her strong conviction in the strength of the Google brand is what has led her to steer the company to greater heights, and thus is a source of inspiration to thousands of individuals.
Commitment is a key attribute of any great leader so that without it, you are lost. An effective leader is committed to excellence as he/she endeavours to achieve the set goals. Wokcicki has always set high standards for herself and her team as well. She is also not afraid to raise the bar even higher if this is what it takes to realise excellence in what she does. A good leader should lead by example as this is bound to earn her the respect of the team under her, not to mention that it instils in them the value of hard work that you believe in as a leader (Howell, 2012). An effective leader should be committed to his/her role and the brand. Wojcicki is fully committed to the Google brand ever since it was incepted in 1998. She is among the pioneer employees of the company (employer number 16). She has also risen through the ranks to become the CEO of YouTube, after it was acquired by Google. She could have opted to start her own company or move to a competitor given her high level of experience and expertise in what she does but has instead chosen to remain with Google. This is an indication of her commitment to the brand.
Vision is a key attribute of leadership in that it separates leaders from their followers. Vision is thus a hallmark of all great leaders. Vision enables a leader to see the bigger picture namely, greater possibilities that the organisation should pursue. This is something that most employees may not see. It is this rare ability to foresee the future that enables great leaders to propel an organisation towards achieving excellence (Tulshyan, 2015). They thus endeavour to exemplify a sense of achieving excellence in their behaviour but more importantly, influence others to also pursue excellence as a means of getting them to commit to the vision. Leaders with a vision are able to figure out where the organisation ought to be from its current position. However, it is not enough to envision the desired position of the organisation without sharing such a vision with the rest of your team.
At Google, Wojcicki’s innovative vision enabled the organisation to acquire such other companies as Admeld, AdMob and DoubleCFlick. This is indicative of her ability to pioneer with tremendous success, n0ovel means of monetising consumer engagement across the web. While acquiring these companies has helped to increase Google’s revenue, more importantly, it has set the trend for other search engine companies to follow suit (UCLA Anderson, 2016). Wojcicki views virtual reality as the next frontier for YouTube. With Google facing stiff competition from Vessle and Facebook in viral video, there is a dire need for the company to innovate. To do so, Wojcicki is empowering creators to develop immersive, 3-D content as a means of enabling Google chart new frontiers.
Integrity is yet another key characteristic that defines successful leaders. It can be described as the complete, unwavering honesty about all that one does or says. In this way, integrity acts as a basis for other the other leadership qualities. According to Trevisani (2015), being honest about the critical aspects of one’s life is a measure of integrity. Nevertheless, integrity is also the most challenging attribute of leadership in that the leader is required to openly acknowledge his/her shortcomings. Therefore, integrity demands that a leader compensates for his/her weaknesses and develop strengths.
One of the key communication skills that describe an effective leader is the ability to be persuasive. Persuasive leaders speak effectively in public. In other words, they have the ability to speak in the jargon or style of a particular organisation or group. They are good as delivering their message in such a manner as to fit the target audience. They simplify their talk when speaking to the general public but can also get sophisticated when addressing experts in a certain field. Wojcicki was able to convince the Google board to adapt its AdWords into what it is today namely, a self-service platform. She also spearheaded the acquisition of YouTube by Google. Since its acquisition in 2006, YouTube has ballooned into a company now valued at over $ 80 billion, and is no match to its competitors like Yahoo, Starbucks, and eBay, among others (Nicas, 2016). Wojcicki helped to launch search engine services at Google with a zero budget. She achieved this by patterning with various universities and persuading them to include Google search bar in their respective websites. This then set the foundation for the growth of Google’s search engine services as other organisations followed suit.
Effective leaders never give up. They keep soldiering on despite the odds against the,. They are never worn down by vicissitudes and tribulations. They see challenges as a stepping stone to greater heights (Forbes, 2013). When faced with a challenge, they do not give up but instead, try to find solutions to the problems facing the organisation. They see problems as concealed opportunities. It is their duty therefore to find solutions to these problems and in the process they might just stumble upon something of value to the organisation.
A creative leader has the potential to view situations from diverse perspectives as well as the ability to solve problems more effectively. Creativity is critical in the modern-day cut-throat global business environment and for this reason ranks higher ion the management agenda. Creativity refers to the ability to develop something suitable and novel and while it has largely been associated with entrepreneurship, more and more businesses are being forced to recruit creative leaders. Besides being on the forefront in developing novel ideas, creative leaders also have the potential to draw on the right minds in an organisation to spearhead the desired innovations (Amabile & Khaire, 2008). They identify employees who are likely to be the source of creative ideas and give them a platform to execute these. They also encourage and facilitate collaboration with like-minded organisations this is out of the realisation that most innovations draw on diverse contributors, as opposed to a single contributor.
Wojcicki has had her fair share of setbacks at the leadership helm in Google but instead, sought to take these challenges positively. For example, Google was actively competing with YouTube in the video arena but she was quick to realise that while the company had a lot of good ideas that it could implement, YouTube was winning the battle. This prompted Google to make a $1.6 billion acquisition of YouTube and Wojcicki was crucial in making this decision (Nicas, 2016). As opposed to fighting the change facing Google, she opted to embrace it by acknowledging that the competition was doing better than them.
Like any other sector, the hotel industry also requires to be led by effective leaders. This is because the industry is highly volatile and dynamic and hence the need for a leader who is flexible enough to envision the future of the sector, the likely challenges to be faced, and how to overcome these. In addition, an effective leader also tries to embrace innovation as a means of staying ahead of the pack (Forbes, 2013). Working in the hotel industry has given me the rare chance of interacting with leaders with diverse leadership styles and characteristics, and most of them have had an influence on my career. It has also given me the desire to become a leader in the industry. To do so, I have identified a number of areas that I need to work on, and these are addressed below.
Players in the hotel industry should always seek to improve how things are done. Strong leaders stress on quality as opposed to quantity in the activities they are involved in (
. I have thus learnt the need to take initiative, as opposed to letting others do so. I must also always endeavour to look for new ways of improving my skills set. More importantly, I should seek innovative solutions. Such solutions could come from anywhere, including from the most junior staffs. It is important therefore to give a listening ear to the junior staff such as the front-line associates seeing as it is them who are closely connected with the hotel guests. They can also develop and deliver services and products directly to our guests on a daily basis and for their reasons, their ideas and input for quality improvement are especially valuable in realising innovations. To be innovative, I also require being a perpetual learner. This can be realised by observing others, reading, or asking questions. In my quest to pursue innovation, I should also be ready to take risks. Innovative hospitality calls for flexible leadership. This means that I should be ready to expand possibilities, view situations differently, and change up my mind, if need be.
The hotel industry requires visionary leaders who defines and clearly communicates the intended vision and is not sceptical about implementing and sharing it with others. Good leaders should be able to inspire others with whom they work with in realising the identified vision. As an aspiring leader, I need to put this in mind, and also the fact that I need to offer relevant tools to those with whom I am working so that they can help with achieving the set objectives. More importantly, I need trust my team members with the vision since it cannot be realised without their valuable input.
Howell (2012) opines that an effective leader should also inspire other in various ways. I should thus endeavour to know my team very well, and also encourage them to make their valuable contributions, in addition to suggesting ideas. Effective leaders share their goals and ideas, and then give team members the tools needed to make the ideas a success. I have also learnt that I should not work about team members making mistakes as they end up learning from them. Inspiring associates empowers them so that they are more confident when making crucial decisions. Consequently, they are in a better position to make successful decisions.
If at all I am to become an effective leader in the hotel industry, I should also be a strong communicator. I should be adept at articulating goals, and possess sound public speaking and listening skills. Great leaders are also curious and inquisitive. I should thus cultivate a habit of asking questions to my associates and peers at every level of the organisations, and more so those delivering services. It is by asking questions that leaders get to know what areas are working well, and which ones requires improvements. A good communicator should first be a good listener. Active listening involves using one’s ears, heart, and eyes. A god listener should also be empathetic that is, take into account the message from the point of view of the sender.
After taking the Myers-Brigg Type Indicator Test, it has emerged that I have an INTP (Introversion, Intuition, and Perceiving), personality type.
Favourite world: I tend to focus on my individual inner word. This needs to change because in the hotel industry, I am bound to interact with various individuals which calls for seeing the bigger picture, and hence the need to focus on the outer world.
Information: When dealing with information, I have a tendency to interpret and add meaning to it, as opposed to merely taking in the basic information. This is indicative of my intuition skills
Decisions: When making crucial decisions, I tend to look at consistency and logic (thinking) as opposed to first looking at social circumstances and people (feeling). While this can be a good trait for an effective leader, especially when faced with challenging situations, this mode of thinking lacks sensitivity to individual feelings. I feel that perhaps I need to balance these two aspects while making decisions as they will impact on individuals in the hotel industry.
Structure: Another trait of my leadership skill is that while dealing with the outside world, I have a tendency top remain open to novel information and options (perceiving), as opposed to letting others decided things (judging). This is an important trait that a leader needs to possess as a leader should lead by example and let others follow him/her.
Every organisation would want to be identified with an effective leader. The business world is wash with thousands of good leaders, but only a handful of these leave a lasting impression in their wake. Susan Wojcicki, the current CEO of YouTube, falls under this rare gem. She has been instrumental in the success of Google as a brand and more importantly, Wojcicki has been instrumental in enabling the company achieve significant improvement of its revenue base. She manifests some of the key leadership traits desirable for an effective leader such as being a visionary, commitment, motivation, persuasiveness, integrity, and good communicator. I would also want to be identified with such an effective leader and for this reason, I have identified certain ears of my leadership traits that I need to work on, if at all I am to succeed as an effective leader in the hotel industry. For example, I need to develop an innovative attitude and be open to innovative ideas from all employees, especially the front-office staff as they directly interact with guests. More importantly, I need to inspire them to realise the vision of the company, and to enhance my communication and especially listening skills.
Results of the Myers-Brigg Type Indicator Test reveal that I have an INTP personality. I have realised that being an introvert in the hotel industry could be a liability as I need to interact with numerous individuals on a daily basis. While making decisions, I should not just rely on my own intuition, but should also view things from the perspective of others who are likely to be affected by such a decision. I should also b open to the ideas of others.
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