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Mark Zuckerberg’s Leadership Style Case Study

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Updated: Jun 16th, 2020

Few CEOs have been subject to as much criticism and attacks as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Most famously, he was portrayed as the villain in the movie ‘The Social Network’. Shareholders have complained about his leadership and failure to increase the stock price of Facebook, and others have claimed he is socially inept and too young and immature to be a CEO of a multi-billion dollar corporation.

However, in spite of this criticism, Zuckerberg is unarguably one of the most successful CEOs and entrepreneurs in corporate history. His small project that he created while he was a college student has become world dominant in the social media business and is still growing and expanding. So despite all of the criticism he clearly has been a successful leader.

The unique combination of various personal traits and features of character allowed Mark Zuckerberg to reach unprecedented heights. A review of these exceptional attributes that were necessary in order to create a flawless attitude will be provided below.

According to Hiriyappa, Mark Zuckerberg possesses the following qualities: intelligence, self-confidence, determination and integrity (211). In summarizing Mark Zuckerberg’s leadership qualities, Tim Bajarin, President of Creative Strategies, Inc., said “the number one thing we’ve learned from Zuckerberg is to take the vision you have, put all your energy into it, and get a lot of smart people around you to execute on it” (Namin-Hedayati par. 5).


From his young ages, Mark had displayed a great interest in programming and creating various transmission mechanisms and games. While studying in the middle school, he did not give up his passion; furthermore, by the time of entering Phillips Exeter Academy in high school, Mark had already programmed a tool that would help his parents to work in the office and communicate with each other. Zuckerberg has retained his fascination with computer programming for many years; and, as a result, the idea of Facebook came to him while he was still at the Phillips Exeter Academy. “At that time, he only planned to offer service only to students within the Ivy League as these students were having problems in networking with one another. Afterward, he made a decision about spreading Facebook to other schools and universities with the help of his roommates” (Wood par. 2). Being so confident and passionate about his occupation reveals determination.


Despite the obvious general erudition and outstanding skills in computer programming, Zuckerberg was intelligent enough to be open for new knowledge. It is well known that Zuckerberg always makes efforts in order to learn more and receive guidance from the most influential businessmen on the planet, for example, Warren Buffett. Moreover, Zuckerberg had never concealed his discourses with Steve Jobs, in which Mark was receiving answers for the issues of business organization and efficient leadership.


While aiming his attention towards building his company, Zuckerberg is considered to be willing to gain control over every possible situation. This desire is a consequence of the self-confidence bordering on the arrogance and inability to trust anyone to do the job appropriately. Moreover, Zuckerberg appears to be of afraid of showing it not only to his workers but to the public as well, which indicates his integrity and directness.

Mark Zuckerberg is a prime example of an autocratic leader. The Facebook evolved into the biggest social network on the planet. However, even when the company changes its status to public, Zuckerberg would still reserve the right to make and dispute every critical decision, while the financiers and the board of directors is obliged to have this right. Moreover, the leadership of Zuckerberg is interpreted as reassuring and contentious at the same time. He has proven himself as an individual who consistently appeals for perpetual modernization and expansion; as a result, Zuckerberg had determined his passion for disputes and challenges. He is known for occasionally neglecting his position of the CEO of the company and making the critical decisions by himself, thus disregarding the opinion of his team.

As for the leadership style among his followers, Zuckerberg often prompts his team to make and present the production and decision more that it was set at the beginning. This method is known to be confounding and stressful; however, Zuckerberg has proven it to be quite effective, as the workers create more output that it was expected from them with limiting the participation of the workers in the most aspects of the work. The CEO of the Facebook makes an attempt at forcing his employees to work more in shorter terms and under enormous pressure, which is also an indication of autocratic leadership (Northouse 67). Moreover, Zuckerberg does not need any consent from the board directors and he does not allow them to intimidate himself, as he is well aware of the value and importance of his company and his position in it.

According to Hiriyappa, “an autocratic leader thinks that his subordinate is intelligent enough, he would not be in that subordinate position. He assumes that unintelligent subordinates are immature, unreliable and immature persons. Therefore, they should be constantly watched in the course of their work” (205). That was exactly the position of Zuckerberg towards his employees. On the contrary, Mark Zuckerberg is well aware of his deficiencies in his leadership style, which is why he started to be more receptive towards the advice from his workers. Moreover, he grants his subordinates an opportunity to present their advancements and renovations for the Facebook. It could be said that Zuckerberg is replacing his autocratic leadership with partially transformational style (Minja and Kirimi 112).

The leadership style of Zuckerberg has both negative and positive aspects. The autocratic approach is believed to be rather efficient and beneficial for the company, its development, and income. Despite the fact that autocratic leaders lack the communication with their employees, they often come up with more productive ideas. However, the autocratic leader creates stressful circumstances for the workers; as a result, they will not be able to work at the company with autocratic approach for the extended period of time (Zaccaro, Gilbert, Thor and Michael Mumford 320).

By his style of leadership, Mark Zuckerberg has made Facebook one of the most well-known and prominent websites of the Web history. Even today, the company faces the auspicious future in incomes. On the contrary, there are negative issues that the company is looking at because of the autocratic approach of Zuckerberg. By cutting back the privileges of stockholders and the liability of the board directors, the company will most likely create two diverse stockholder foundations, which will be guided by diverse concerns. “This, in turn, may and probably will fuel proxy contests and boardroom or family struggles that ultimately will screw common shareholders according to Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS)” (Wood par. 5).

Works Cited

Hiriyappa, Bahadur. Organizational Behavior, New Delhi, India: New Age International, 2009. Print.

Minja, David, and Ardon Barine Kirimi. Transformational Corporate Leadership, Franklin, Tennessee: Integrity Publishers Inc, 2012. Print.

Namin-Hedayati, Farnaz. n.d. n.d. Web.

Northouse, Peter. Leadership Theory and Practice (Sixth Edition), Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications, 2012. Print.

Wood, Robert. Forbes. Web.

Zaccaro, Stephen, Gilbert, Janelle, Thor, Kirk, and Michael Mumford. “Leadership and Social Intelligence: Linking Social Perceptiveness and Behavioral Flexibility to Leader Effectiveness.” Leadership Quarterly 2.1 (1991): 317-331. Print.

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