Mark Zuckerberg: Leader of the 21st Century
What makes someone an effective leader? Leadership has undergone a lot of changes in the last 20th Century. For instance, there have been a total of 65 different definitions in the last 60 years alone. The definition that I like comes from the book Leadership Theory and Practice by Peter G. Northouse: “Leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal” (Northouse, 2016, p. 6). One leader that comes to mind who is the perfect example of this definition is Mark Zuckerberg co-founder and CEO of Facebook.
Mark Zuckerberg was born in 1984 in White Plains, New York and developed an interest for computers at an early age. According to Biography.com, he was raised into a well-educated family, his father was a dentist and his mother worked as a psychiatrist. Mr. Zuckerberg has become one of the most influential leaders and made Facebook one of the most successful companies in the world. According to Money.cnn.com, Facebook is now worth more than $200 billion.
Zuckerberg is considered a leader with intellectual ability because he has build one of the largest and successful global social networks by being a college dropout. Mr. Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard to fulfill his dream which was to “build something that only a few on the planet had the privilege to build” (Walter, 2014). Zuckerberg has outstanding leadership characteristics which have allowed him to make Facebook into a multi-billion dollar company and one of the world’s successful social network of the 21st Century.
Mr. Zuckerberg’s leadership styles have contributed to his phenomenal success as a young entrepreneur. He has become a successful leader because of the following leadership skills:
- Passion: Zuckerberg is very passionate about what he does and has always been fascinated by computers and connecting people. According to an article by Walter, he has said, “Find that thing you are super passionate about. A lot of founding principles of Facebook are that if people have access to more information and are more connected, it will make the world better; people will have more understanding, more empathy. That’s the guiding principle for me. On hard days, I really step back, and that’s the thing that keeps me going.”
- Effective communicator: Having an open communication work culture builds trust and makes you become an effective leader (Johnson, 2015). Zuckerberg from the start established an open communication with his employees. Many who work at Facebook say that he is always walking around, talking to everyone, asking questions and getting to know them personally (Johnson, 2016).
- Effective problem solving skills: Zuckerberg’s focus has always been on solving problems and innovation which has made Facebook innovative and highly successful. His drive to always solve problems has made Facebook to be one of the most successful companies that it is today (Mark, 2014).
- Excellent interpersonal skills: Zuckerberg is a people’s people. Zuckerberg gets along great with his employees and allows them to openly present their interests and take risks. Facebook employees are allowed to work on the projects that they are most interested in. In an article by Walter, Zuckerberg said, “I think as a company, if you can get those two things right — having a clear direction on what you are trying to do and bringing in great people who can execute on the stuff– then you can do pretty well.”
- Visionary: Zuckerberg has always been involved in philanthropic work with his wife Priscilla Chan they created the Chan Zuckerberg initiative. The initiative aims to develop new technology that can drive science forward. Zuckerberg has also met with many world leaders as part of his vision for shaping future generations, making the world more connected, and helping tackle various global social problems (Johnson, 2015). Mr. Zuckerberg has established a culture at Facebook that welcomes innovation and encourages its people to stick to their vision. ‘We have cultivated a unique culture and management approach that we call the Hacker Way” said Zuckerberg on a press release (Mark, (b), 2012).
When employees are happy, it lowers the organization’s turnovers and increase job satisfaction. Hiring the right people and letting go of the wrong ones is an important step to accomplish for a successful company.
Zuckerberg has created an open communication culture where employees share their ideas and are allowed to speak their minds and they are also passionate about what they do. According to Walter, Facebook is committed to its product and innovation to further its goal which is to connect people.
What distinguishes Zuckerberg from other leaders is the strong relationship he builds with his employees and partners. Partnering with the right investors who have the same ideas and execute them and also having a strong management team is vital for a successful company. An article by Walter states, “Success is a team sport. Great leaders recognize their own weaknesses as much as their strengths and bring in the right people in to form partnerships that drive success.”
Johnson, C. (2015, December 22). Seven life skills I learned from Mark Zuckerberg about success. Retrieved September 10, 2016, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/yec/2015/12/22/eight-life-skills-i- learned-from-mark-zuckerberg-about-success/#186ad49763f0
La Monica, P. (2014, September 9). A lot to ‘like’: Facebook now worth $200 billion. Retrieved September 10, 2016 from http://money.cnn.com/2014/09/09/investing/facebook-worth-200-billion/
Mark Zuckerberg’s Leadership Qualities. (2014). Retrieved September 26, 2016, from http://www.centerforworklife.com/mark-zuckerbergs-leadership-qualities/
Mark Zuckerberg’s letter to investors (b): ‘The hacker way’. (2012, February 1). Retrieved September 26, 2016, from https://www.wired.com/2012/02/zuck-letter/
Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership: theory and practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Ray, J. (2011, April 8). Facebook: A case study of strategic leadership. Retrieved September 19, 2016, from http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2103975
Walter, E. (2014, May 14). How to lead like Zuck. Retrieved September 10, 2016, from http://www.inc.com/ekaterina-walter/as-zuckerberg-turns-30-leadershiplessons.html