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Leadership Style of Google Ceo; Eric Schmidt

Essay by review  •  December 24, 2010  •  Research Paper  •  2,343 Words (10 Pages)  •  1,670 Views

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This paper analyzes the leadership style of Google CEO; Eric Schmidt based on the of leadership concepts outlined by David Messick in his essay "On the Psychological Exchange Between Leaders and Followers". Eric Schmidt measures up very well on all the dimensions except Protection-Security.

In his paper, Messick analyzes leadership by focusing on the relationship between leaders and followers. Messick postulates that followers chose to be led because doing so provides them certain benefits. In choosing to be led, the followers act in ways beneficial to the leader. Thus leaders and followers are linked together in a symbiotic psychological relationship by exchanging benefits. Messick identifies five dimensions along which this exchange of benefits takes place.

Benefits Leaders offer Followers Benefits Followers offer Leaders

i Vision-Direction Focus-Self Direction

ii Protection-Security Gratitude-Loyalty

iii Achievement-Effectiveness Commitment-Effort

iv Inclusion-Belongingness Cooperation-sacrifice

v Pride-self respect Respect-Obedience

The first benefit of a Vision-Direction provides focus to the efforts of followers. It helps followers visualize a future state that is better than the current and motivates them to work towards it. Leaders provide answers to the questions "Why are we here", "What is our purpose", "Where are we going" and "How are we going to get there". If the followers identify with the leaders vision, they are more likely to take ownership of the vision and work towards the goal with minimal oversight. As the followers work towards the goal they expect leaders to provide them security, stability, continuity and a sense of purpose especially during times of uncertainty. In return, the followers feel an obligation towards the leader and his cause thus strengthening the bonds between them. On the next dimension of "Achievement and Effectiveness", Leaders convince their followers that audacious and difficult goals are achievable. The followers work hard sacrifice their own self-interest and are committed to the leader's goals. This common goal bonds the members of the group together increasing cooperation and chances of success. Leaders also foster the human need for belonging in the next dimension of "Inclusion and Belongingness". By being part of group the followers can enjoy the successes of team members as if it were their own. Followers with a sense of belonging are more likely to make sacrifices for the members of the group. This leads us to the next dimension of "Pride and self-respect", where followers feel valued for their contribution to the group and take pride in the group's achievements. Thus followers feel a sense of ownership in the outcomes of the group and are self-motivated. Even though the five dimensions are listed separately they are entwined. Leaders will find it hard to make a change on one dimension without affecting the other. However under certain conditions (e.g. war) one dimension may be more important than another.

Eric Schmidt

Eric Schmidt has a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Princeton and a Masters and PhD in Computer Science from University of California, Berkley. He spent 14 years at Sun Microsystems progressing through various technical jobs, eventually leading the development of the Java language and becoming the Chief Technical Officer. In 1997 he took over as CEO of Novell with the goal of turning the beleaguered company around. After Schmidt's arrival the profitability at Novell increased. However the internet bust of 2000 greatly slowed demand, leading to Novell's acquisition of consulting firm Cambridge Technology Partners (CTP). Mr. Schmidt relinquished Novell's CEO position and assumed the role of chief strategist. In 2001, he joined the Google's board of directors and later became the CEO. Even though Eric is the legal CEO of Google he shares power with the founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin in a triumvirate .

The leadership style of Eric Schmidt can be summarized in the following key points

1. Get to know your followers.

2. Create new ways to promote your followers.

3. Let your followers own the problems you want them to solve

4. Allow people to function outside the company hierarchy

5. Review your team's results by someone they respect.

How Eric Schmidt measures on the Messick's five dimensions

I. Get to know your followers

Erics success at Sun, Novell and now Google can largely be attributed to his efforts at energizing the workforce of software engineers (technologists, geeks). He is intimately aware of their strengths and weaknesses. e.g. An engineer's obsession with being truthful and precise. When asked a question, they are more likely to answer only that specific question and nothing else. They are so particular about being truthful, that someone not familiar with this behavior may interpret the engineer to be concealing facts or even lying. However, when asked the right question, they provide highly effective information. Society stereotypes engineers and technologists as having poor social skills. While true in general, engineers are very social within their community. They communicate effectively amongst themselves and are organized into different sub-communities (mainframe-era graybeards, Unix people, pc-web generation, Linux aficionados etc.). They enjoy publicity, are deeply interested in having an impact, and making the world a better place.

This leadership style primarily provides benefits on the "Vision-Direction" dimension. It helps Eric formulate a vision, his followers are more likely to accept and be motivated by.

When Eric joined Novell, the company's future was very much in doubt. He correctly recognized a culture of fear that pervaded the organization. Bright engineers with revolutionary ideas were reluctant to voice them for fear of being fired. The engineers however, complained vociferously amongst themselves leading to a culture of corporate cynicism. Recognizing this pervasive bellyaching, Eric asked two engineers he met on the company shuttle, to give him the names of the smartest people they knew in the company. Eric met with each of them, and asked them in turn to

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