Globalization has revolutionized international business primarily through technological advancement and enhanced diversity in human resource management. The Leadership styles adopted by business leaders are essential in determining the success or failure of an organization in managing structural changes caused by globalization. Because of the powerful dynamics of business expansion in the 21st century, international businesses have been obligated to adapt their leadership styles to strengthen their organizational culture while fostering integration between expanded and parent organizations. Facebook is an excellent model of international leadership with a major goal of enhancing social connectedness globally. This study will focus on Mark Zuckerberg’s leadership styles in enhancing connectedness globally while strengthening Facebook’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The paper will also explore various leadership theories to understand Zuckerberg’s leadership principles and styles in response to the Cambridge Analytica CSR crisis. Mark Zuckerberg is a responsible and supportive leader whose leadership has enhanced the privacy and security of users’ data while enabling people to establish social communities globally.
Facebook was established in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chis Hughes at Harvard University. It is An American-based international social network with its headquarters in Menlo Park, California. Initially, Facebook aimed at enabling Harvard students to share their profiles and photos with other students (Shukaev, 2019). Facebook later gained popularity within Harvard University and later spread to other colleges in the U.S and spread globally from 2005. Facebook is the parent to other social media platforms such as Whatsapp, Instagram, and Messenger (Kumar, 2019). Facebook’s growth and attractiveness are primarily due to Mark Zuckerberg’s leadership style.
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Zuckerberg is currently the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Facebook, and his leadership is mainly based on innovation and growth. Facebook is an established multinational company with an expanded global reach to diverse stakeholders, including users, advertisers, employees, governments, and communities. However, Facebook consumerism has led to a social phenomenon of breach of users’ private data and addiction, challenging the company’s social responsibility.
In 2018, Facebook faced a data breach that challenged the company’s CSR. Cambridge Analytica exploited private user data, threatening Facebook’s ability to protect its users’ data (Yue, Beraite, and Chaudhri, 2020). Cambridge Analytica’s contractors and employees hacked Facebook users’ profiles to sell them to political campaigns (Lewis and Hilder, 2018). Facebook has a social responsibility to maintain the privacy of users’ data by preventing unauthorized access by third parties.
Theoretical Underpin of Mark Zuckerberg’s Leadership Style and Skills
Responsible Leadership Style
Most multinational corporations use a responsible leadership style to remain socially responsible and prioritize stakeholders’ interests. Leaders must use the right leadership culture and maintain a responsible leadership style. Zuckerberg’s response during the Cambridge Analytica crisis portrays him as a responsible leader. According to the responsible leadership theory postulated by Pless et al. (2021), responsible leaders integrate leadership ethics and CSR by focusing on stakeholders and the organization’s interests. Responsible leaders possess relational intelligence, responsibility, empathy, and ethical skills. Leaders should adhere to ethical principles, maintain quality stakeholders’ relationships, and make ethical decisions (Haski-Leventhal, Pournader, and McKinnon, 2017). Zuckerberg is a responsible leader because he has relational intelligence skills, which enable him to build trust with Facebook users. The central role of a responsible leader is to build and maintain trust-based relationships with stakeholders. Zuckerberg maintains trust by ensuring users’ private data protection and security. During Cambridge Analytica, Zuckerberg used his emotions to understand the impact of the data breach on users. In his response statement, Zuckerberg stated that he was solely responsible for whatever happened on the social media platform, implying that he was solely responsible for Facebook users (Segarra, 2018). The apology was drafted using emotions consciously to rebuild users’ trust in the company’s ability to protect their data.
Responsible leaders also make ethical decisions by determining the effects of decisions on the system. Zuckerberg is a responsible leader who can ethically use moral judgment and moral choices to solve moral dilemmas. Pless et al. 2021) note that responsible leaders use moral imagination as servant leaders. They adapt moral imagination to serve stakeholders’ needs and interests. Zuckerberg banned Cambridge Analytica and other developers who failed to comply with the though audit aimed at enhancing the privacy and security of user data. Another moral solution adopted by Zuckerberg is to require developers to request users’ consent to access their private data. Responsible leadership enables leaders to exercise their responsibility as servant leaders, prioritizing stakeholders’ interests.
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Behavioral Leadership Style
According to behavioral theory, a person’s leadership style is determined by their behaviors, what they do, and their actions in given scenarios. Safonov, Maslennikov, and Lenska (2018) indicate that different stimuli elicit different leaders’ behaviors. The Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed certain behaviors of the Facebook CEO. Zuckerberg is a focused leader focused on protecting users’ privacy rights. Although the Cambridge Analytica scandal may have ruined his reputation, Zuckerberg continuously works on improving Facebook and making it a haven for users. Zuckerberg is an ethical leader with ethical behaviors such as responsibility. He accepted that his company had made a mistake and assumed full responsibility for the company’s unethical behavior. He acknowledged that his company had been faulted for allowing Cambridge to access users’ data and took full responsibility for the crisis by implementing strategies to prevent future data breaches. Zuckerberg also portrayed humility and a desire to learn from his failure through his apology. His actions demonstrated that users are more important than the profits made. Zuckerberg’s apology defied most CEOs’ status quo, preventing them from owning their mistakes. Amid the crisis, Zuckerberg did not show any arrogance or sense of superiority, the highest proof of humility. He accepted his mistakes and apologized through his Facebook post to hold him accountable for his responsibilities.
Zuckerberg is an ethical leader, as depicted by his virtues of honesty and sincerity. He gave a clear description of the company’s steps to ensure the security of users’ private data. Zuckerberg is also considerate of his users’ interests because he intends to educate his users about the apps allowed to access their Facebook data. He has installed a tool in Facebook’s privacy settings to enable users to see the apps with permission to access private data. This tool has been integrated at the top of News Feed to safeguard users’ privacy. Behavioral leadership is essential to developing behaviors that align with different organizational situations. Different situations require other behaviors.
Supporting Leadership Style
Mark Zuckerberg’s leadership style is supportive because he cares for his stakeholders, establishes positive relationships, and develops moral solutions. A supportive leader does not simply delegate tasks but supports stakeholders to achieve organizational goals (Cooke, Wang, and Bartram, 2019). Zuckerberg first creates a team of experts with the right skills to protect stakeholders’ data. He explains clearly how the team will achieve the goals and works closely with them, providing the necessary resources and moral support. Zuckerberg is also a supportive leader. He supports the users by enabling them to take control of their private data. He communicates the steps to protect user data and supports users in learning about the tools available to ensure the privacy of the data. Zuckerberg also learns from mistakes. His apology indicated that in the future, the company is going to learn from the mistakes that occurred in the Cambridge Analytica crisis to prevent such cases from occurring again.
During the Cambridge data crisis, Zuckerberg acknowledged the impacts of the data breach on stakeholders’ privacy and responded by implementing measures to overcome such crises. Such measures are essential in overcoming the pressure associated with the loss of privacy rights. A supportive leader researches solutions to moral dilemmas facing an organization. When Zuckerberg and his team realized that users were sharing their private data with Cambridge data, he immediately banned the users from the Facebook platform. Zuckerberg maintains his supportive leadership by normalizing mistakes. He believes that mistakes are lessons that help a person improve. Zuckerberg has normalized learning from the company’s failures and using the information obtained to improve the quality of services offered by Facebook. Supportive leadership is integral to providing resources and moral support needed to accomplish organizational goals and objectives.
Application of Leadership Style and Skills
Zuckerberg adapted his responsible leadership style to the situation and owned up for the mistake, apologized publicly, and explained the real impact of the scandal. Zuckerberg is sensitive to other people’s needs and feelings. He knew that the data breach had a real impact on the users, and that is why he apologized to make them feel appreciated. In his apology, Zuckerberg stated that Facebook is responsible for protecting users’ data and explained his company’s strategies to prevent future data breaches. Zuckerberg has an internal loss of control, enabling him to control the state of affairs. As a responsible leader, Zuckerberg holds a vision of bringing people together founded on the ambition to create a connected world. Data breaches are likely to cause mental distress among stakeholders.
Zuckerberg’s responsible leadership style has enabled the company to have a sense of responsibility to its users by advising users to use the platform wisely. According to Haski-Leventhal, Pournader, and McKinnon (2017), responsible leadership prioritizes stakeholders’ interests in business decision-making. Zuckerberg prioritizes his users in corporate citizenship because they determine Facebook’s attractiveness and popularity. To remain socially accountable to its users, Facebook has data scientists and safety teams investigating issues about its products’ influence, including users’ well-being (Oremus, 2021). For example, in 2018, Zuckerberg changed the Facebook newsfeed to enable users to interact with friends on social media, improving their mental health. Instead of spending too much time watching passive videos, users can engage in meaningful interactions. Zuckerberg continuously improves Facebook to make it user-friendly while ensuring the privacy and security of user data.
Rationale For Approach
Due to utilitarianism, Mark Zuckerberg adopted a responsible leadership approach to the Cambridge Analystica crisis. Utilitarianism is based on the value of the common good for all stakeholders involved. By assuming the sole responsibility for the data breach, Zuckerberg ensured that all stakeholders’ needs were met. Facebook users gained assurance that their data was safe. The company also maintained its reputation for keeping users’ data privacy and security.
Evaluation of Zuckerberg’s Leadership Styles
Zuckerberg’s response to the Cambridge Analytica crisis shows his readiness to solve a problem openly and engage stakeholders in decision-making. However, his approach demonstrates that Zuckerberg is a poor communicator. He kept silent about the data breach for almost a week without communicating anything to the stakeholders. People had the right to know what was happening and if the safety of their data could still be guaranteed. The silence could imply that Zuckerberg was afraid to confront his company’s adverse reality. A good leader understands that immediate and decisive communication is essential in the face of a crisis.
Zuckerberg needs to develop practical communication skills to communicate information promptly and effectively.
In conclusion, the essay has evaluated the leadership style of Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook CEO, identifying his leadership styles and skills, reviewing leadership theories, and applying previous studies to the Facebook CSR crisis. Mark Zuckerberg’s leadership at Facebook assures the stakeholders that the company has their best interest in mind and focuses on implementing the right strategies to ensure stakeholders’ privacy and security. Zuckerberg responds to social dilemmas as a responsible and supportive leader. He is responsible for safeguarding users’ privacy and security and accepts his mistakes when Facebook faces privacy issues. Zuckerberg professionally responded to the Cambridge Analytica crisis by notifying and apologizing to all Facebook users. He also worked closely with a team of data scientists to enhance security and ban apps and developers that violated the company’s privacy policies. Zuckerberg’s leadership style demonstrates that leaders should align their leadership styles to organizational culture to meet stakeholders’ interests and achieve organizational goals.
Cooke, F. L., Wang, J., & Bartram, T. (2019). Can a supportive workplace impact employee resilience in a high pressure performance environment? An investigation of the Chinese banking industry. Applied Psychology, 68(4), 695-718.