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Meg Whitman And Her Leadership Style

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Meg Whitman and her Leadership style

Meg Whitman was born in 1957 and she grew up in Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island, New York. When Whitman entered Princeton University, she planned a career in medicine, but she became an economics major after a summer job selling advertising for a campus publication. She graduated with an economics degree in 1977 and earned an MBA from Harvard Business School two years later. Whitman joined Procter & Gamble, later worked for the consulting firms of: Bain & Co., Walt Disney, Stride Rite Shoes, Florists' Tran world Delivery (FTD), and Hasbro. At Hasbro, she was responsible for marketing Playskool and Mr. Potato Head brands. Whitman, now 49, joined eBay in1998 as president and CEO, has helped turn it into a major Internet presence, visited by some seven million people daily. As ruler of the world's biggest online auction site, Whitman, has successfully beaten back stiff competition from and Yahoo. To do that, she has swiftly fixed any problems, has faithfully tried to weed out the fakes on her site and has posted a consistent flow of profits, making eBay the world's most valuable Internet brand. On paper at least, Whitman who is married to Griffith R. Harsh IV, a neurosurgeon, is a multi-billionaire and one of the richest woman CEOs in the world.

Leadership and Motivation:

Personal traits:

Flexible and Adaptable

The business world is continuously evolving and the demands for new ideas are uprising. In such situation, Whitman is comfortable going with the flow, rather than being rigid. In order to maximize output and to cope with today's diverse workforce, Meg Whitman thinks both in terms of flexibility and adaptability. What started out as a pure consumer-to-consumer auction marketplace, is now inviting large and small businesses to sell to consumers and other businesses. For example, Whitman decided to buy Billpoint, an online system that allowed payments by e-mail, offering another enticement for prospective eBay buyers and sellers. Also to help eBay move into other markets, Whitman negotiated the purchase of Kruse International, a collectible car house, and Alando de AG, the largest online-auction house in Europe. As a result by the end of the third quarter of 1999, eBay reported sales of more than $741 million, up from just $195 million the year before. The company had also virtually cornered the online-auction business, accounting for 90 percent of all on-line-auction sales. Therefore, eBay's economy is expanding exponentially and it is earning record profits for eBay's stockholders.


"The biggest mistake many Internet companies make is waste a lot of money on television advertisement," .But Meg realized that she had critical mass and that the company needed to tell its story. Thus the company's first multi-million-dollar television ad campaign capped the company's most successful quarter and opened up the company to a broader group of consumers.

Meg Whitman believes that people are basically good and so they should be trusted. She has huge confidence in both her employees and her customers. With the expansion of eBay, Meg is confident that her team will find the way of managing it, as managing the company's growth is Whitman's greatest challenge. Under her reign eBay's employment rolls rose 67 percent to about 5,000 in a year's time and the profit is driving a growth of 70 percent. Whitman has said, "We don't actually control this, we have a unique partner--millions of people." With that in mind, Whitman's company holds hour-long teleconferences to get their polls as an input, which gives the users a feel of ownership. As a result, eBay's users feel like owners and they are motivated to take the initiative to expand the eBay economy beyond management's wildest dreams. They have achieved what business call "The Network Effect". It is important because it increases the value of the service for other buyers and sellers


Whitman has an uncommon humility and ability to listen to customers and employees. She believes that one can't direct the company's users to do much of anything, instead needs to use the community of users to chart the course of the company. She finds out precisely what its users like and dislikes before she makes any changes to the company.

She listens to people like an average person and often responds to what the eBay community wants, even when her gut tells her to do something entirely different. After the acquisitions of leading payment-service PayPal, caused dissent on Wall Street, despite the fact that most customers preferred PayPal to EBay's own BillPoint payment service, Whitman wasn't immediately willing to part with what she said was a "tremendous amount of money". Whitman believed that eBay would compete and win against PayPal. It wasn't clear to her that PayPal's payment service was hands-down better than what eBay's development team put together. But after months of watching eBay's customers repeatedly choose PayPal over eBay's service, she said customers eventually made the decision for her of rallying her own management team to back the PayPal purchase, and recommended it to her board. Whitman maintains her customer focus by answering many of the e-mails she receives from them herself. She taps eBay's community to find out precisely what its users like and dislike before she makes any changes to the way the company lists and conducts its auctions. Because of Whitman's insistence on listening to customers, some analysts describe her management style as "matronly" rather than aggressive, as if she were the den mother of a pack of eBay sellers.

Connects with People

Whitman acts like an average person would. She's not on a different level the way some executives are. She keeps a steady hand on the tiller rather than gripping and pulling hard on the levers of power. She delicately steers and builds relationships with her employees instead of controlling them. She works from a cube, like all



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