Meg Whitman is the current Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Hewlett-Packard, the technology company that specializes in business and consumer electronic devices and services. She worked at a number of Fortune 500 companies and eventually found herself at the head of an Internet startup, eBay. Her leadership there allowed the company to grow rapidly and become one of the most important sites of the early Internet era. eBay remains important to this day, testament to what Whitman and her team built. In 2012, she was brought into Hewlett-Packard. The company was in a bad operational and financial situation at the time and Whitman was assigned to revitalize the tech giant (Anders, 2013). This paper will discuss Whitman's leadership style, in particular drawing on her experiences at eBay and at HP.
Whitman's Leadership Style
Whitman is a consensus-builder who prefers to empower her teams. In particular, she focuses on nurturing innovation and working with the people in the company (Sanderson, 2012). This leadership style is combined with an emphasis on hiring that allows the company to have the right people on board, who are capable of achieving that company's mission. Once the right people are in place, they also need to be empowered, and that is something that comes from management. Whitman is known not to appreciate the autocratic leadership style (Anders, 2013).
Another aspect of Whitman's leadership style is that she seeks to be visionary. This was the case when she built eBay. The company was originally a small online transaction facilitator with a niche market. What Whitman recognized was that the company's capabilities exceeded -- by a considerable margin -- the company's target market. She expanded that target market and built the capabilities of eBay to meet the expanded vision that she had for the company.
She has now used the same approach at Hewlett-Packard. She began with a vision for where its industries were going in the coming years, and sought to rebuild the company as an organization that could meet those challenges and take advantage of those opportunities. The result was a series of rapid changes in the company, both in terms of its businesses and in the ways in which it does business (IDG, 2013). This style of building consensus is also something that was necessary at HP after a succession of self-interested and ultimately ineffective CEOs (McGregor, 2011).
Whitman likes to build her companies in her own image. This means that the company begins with a broad-based vision of the world. HP has long been able to continuously reinvent itself, something that is necessary considering that the technology industry exists in a state of rapid, constant change. Whitman has sought with HP to position the company as visionary and build it around those visions. She excels at selling her visions to employees, and it was excellence in this area that contributed significantly to her hiring.
Another crucial organizational value that Whitman instills in her companies is that of integrity and honesty. Whitman is forthright, even where bad news is concerned. This blunt honesty allows her to get to the truth about key matters. This approach has helped her since taking over leadership of HP, winning contracts from Microsoft, for example, where the company had been unable to do so in the past (Anders, 2013). This was because she solicited and received honest feedback from Microsoft's CEO about why HP had not received previous contracts.
When the CEO places a substantial emphasis on ethical behavior, that filters down throughout the organization. This is an area where Whitman can help HP. While the company does not have any major ethical issues, Whitman's approach where integrity is never compromised and honesty is critical will help HP be more direct in facing its challenges. This in turn will deliver better outcomes for the company. Further, Whitman's emphasis on integrity will allow those within the organization to continue to have a culture where ethical behavior is to a high standard. Whitman is not the sort of CEO to allow unethical behavior, even if that behavior is temporarily profitable.
Strengths & Weaknesses
Whitman has a number of strengths that have served her well in her career. The first of those is her emphasis on ethical behavior and honesty. Honesty is something that is a ticket to the C-suite in that if one has no real honesty, they will…
"Leadership Style What Do People Do When They Are Leading Meg Whitman Hewlett Packard" (2013, June 14) Retrieved June 19, 2017, from http://www.paperdue.com/essay/leadership-style-what-do-people-when-91936
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"Leadership Style What Do People Do When They Are Leading Meg Whitman Hewlett Packard", 14 June 2013, Accessed.19 June. 2017, http://www.paperdue.com/essay/leadership-style-what-do-people-when-91936