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Meg Whitman – Leadership Style: What Do People Do When They Are Leading? Research Paper

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Updated: Jun 26th, 2019

Background information

Meg Whitman was born in 1956 in Long Island, New York. Over the years, she has gained global reputation within the corporate world. Her reputation has mainly emanated from her excellence within the business environment that is mostly dominated by men.

Meg Whitman has worked for several global companies such as Proctor & Gamble as the brand manager, Bain & Company, Disney, FTD, Hasbro and Stride Rite. In 1998, she was hired by eBay as the Chief Executive Officer where she worked for 10 years before joining Hewlett-Packard (HP) in 2010. Currently, Meg Whitman is the CEO of HP.

Leadership style and philosophy

Meg Whitman recognizes the significance of good leadership in the success of an organization. Consequently, she has developed efficient leadership skills over the years. As a leader, Meg Whitman mainly utilizes transformational and charismatic leadership styles. Her transformational leadership is evidenced by a number of issues.

First, she utilizes intellectual stimulation as a tool to encourage her followers to be creative in the course executive their duties. For example, she usually asks her employees a number of questions in an effort to challenge their status quo. Daft (2011) asserts that ‘Meg Whitman does not tell people what to do. However, she keeps quizzing them until the path ahead is obvious’ (p.61).

In line with her transformational leadership style, Meg Whitman advocates for individualized consideration. One of the ways through which she achieves this is by ensuring that open communication within an organization is maintained. Upon joining HP, she eliminated all the bureaucracy that limited communication between the executive and the lower level employees.

She has attained this by establishing a ‘bureaucracy buster’ email that is aimed at providing employees with an opportunity to communicate directly to the top executives. Her individualized consideration characteristic has led to development of a strong relationship with the lower level employees hence contributing to develop of a high level of organizational identity.

Most employees perceive her as a down-to-earth CEO despite her status (Duffy, 2013). In an effort to achieve its organizational goals, HP has developed a culture whereby employees are required to collaborate and work with each other as a team.

However, this is only possible if effective and efficient communication is maintained between the various levels of management. Consequently, Meg Whitman’s style of leadership effectively aligns with the organizations corporate culture (Hellriegel & Slocum, 2009).

Her charismatic leadership style is evidenced by the fact that she influences other people to follow her rather than force then. One of the ways through which she influences her followers is by providing them with the necessary directions to complete a particular task or project. As a result, she is able to develop a strong sense of trust between her and her followers.

Personal and organizational values

According to Whitman and Hamilton (2010), the personal values possessed by leaders play a fundamental role in the success of an organization. Meg’s success within the corporate world is as a result of her strong personal and organizational values. For example, she believes that leadership success emanates from integrating the followers within the leadership process.

Additionally, Meg Whitman is very passionate about respecting other peoples’ ideas. Employee engagement is one of the most important leadership elements. This is due to the fact that it influences the extent to which employees are committed to attainment of the set organizational goals. By encouraging employee engagement, Meg Whitman has been able to enhance the performance of HP Company which had been on a downward trend.

Meg also values trust and courage. She asserts that they are essential elements in the management of organization in the 21st century. Trust is an important organizational value in that it enhances the degree to which an organization attains the desired level of employee collaboration hence creating synergy.

On the other hand, courage is an important personal value in that it motivates the leader to take calculated risks hence increasing the likelihood of an organization attaining the desired level of success (Whitman & Hamilton, 2010).

Over the years that she has been in the corporate world, Meg has greatly appreciated the importance of being flexible. She asserts that flexibility improves the effectiveness with which leaders respond to internal and external changes. One of the organizational values that Meg Whitman appreciates is authenticity. By being authentic, Meg is always focused on attainment of the desired results and the set organizational mission.

Additionally, she appreciates the importance of honesty and fairness amongst the employees. This arises from the fact that it influences the relationship developed between employees in diverse levels of management (Whitman & Hamilton, 2010).

Ways through which the values possessed by the CEO are likely to influence ethical behavior within the organization

The values possessed by the CEO play a critical role in influencing development of ethical behavior within HP. By advocating for honesty and fairness, the likelihood of the CEO inducing a high level of discipline amongst the employees is high. This arises from the fact that employees will treat each other with respect (Lehman& Deborah, 2008).

Currently, organizations are experiencing a major challenge emanating from the high rate of cultural diversity within the labor market. Failure to manage cultural differences in the workplace can result to employee conflict which limits organizational success.

However, advocating for fairness will ensure that employees respect one another hence improving coexistence amongst employees. Additionally, honesty will play fundamental role in minimizing corporate fraud which is one of the major unethical issues that firm’s management teams are faced with.

By developing and sustaining employee engagement in the management process, the CEO will be able to minimize unnecessary employee resistance. The employees will develop a feeling that they are a part of the change process. Consequently, the likelihood of the CEO minimizing acts of sabotage to the organization’s change initiatives will enhance.

Failure to collaborate with the employees in the change process may result in some employees leaking business intelligence to competitors due to a low degree of organizational identity. This may adversely affect the effectiveness with which the organization attains the desired level of competitiveness (Lewis, 2007).

Strengths and weaknesses

Meg Whitman has a number of strengths and weaknesses as outlined below.


  • Customer driven– Meg Whitman is committed towards delivering value to customers. As a result, she motivates her followers to be customer focused in the course of executing their duties.
  • Team oriented– The CEO appreciates the fact that the success of the organization in an environment that is increasingly becoming very competitive will depend on the input of every employee. Consequently, she encourages employees to work in teams in order to accomplish the set organizational goal.
  • Innovative– The intensity of competition within the personal computer industry has increased significantly over the past few decades. One of the factors that have led to this increment relates to emergence of new technologies such as mobile devices. To cope with the changes in the external environment, Meg Whitman is very innovative. For example, she intends to enhance HP’s ability to tap the cloud computing and big data markets. This will improve HP’s competitiveness significantly.


Despite the above strengths, the CEO suffers from a number of weaknesses which include;

  • She is impatient.
  • She does not offer direct guidance but only gives clues.
  • Sometimes she dominates in the decision making process which may lead to conflicts.

The CEO’s greatest quality

One of the qualities that have led to Whitman’s success is her innovativeness. In the course of executing her duties, Meg is very committed towards transforming a particular situation in order to attain the desired outcome.

Influence of power, politics and communication in a group

Power has significant influence in the success of groups within an organization. First power affects the commitment of the group members in executing their duties. For example, team leaders can use various types of power which include referent power, coercive power and reward power to ensure that employees remain focused on the set goals. Politics can also influence the effectiveness with which an organization operates.

Some of the issues that organizational politics influence include group norms, free flow of information, and peer pressure. On the other hand, communication influences the degree to which group members share information that is essential in the attainment of the set goals. Consequently, it is important for organizational leaders to ensure that they are effective in managing power, politics and communication.

Reference List

Daft, R. (2011). Understanding management. Mason, OH: South-Western.

Duffy, C. (2013). HP rocks with Whitman Rap, cooper tire rolls on Indian buyout. Retrieved from

Hellriegel, D. & Slocum, J. (2009). Organizational behavior. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.

Lehman, C. & Deborah, F. (2008). Business communication. Mason, OH: South- Western.

Lewis, P. (2007). Management; challenges for tomorrow’s leaders. Mason, OH: South- Western.

Whitman, M. & Hamilton, J. (2010). The power of many: values for success in business and life. New York: Crown Publishing.

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