StudyCorgi Business & Economics

Margaret Whitman’s Leadership: EBay Company’s Case


The article provides a review of Margaret Whitman’s leadership (chief executive (CEO)) style for which her critics say was old-fashioned and not entrepreneurial. After announcing her plan to quit the company she had worked for 10 years and posted some of the best results that led to her ranking as the 22nd most powerful woman, and later on as the 3rd most powerful woman in business in the world, many of her critics did not spare her.

We will write a
custom essay
specifically for you

for only $16.05 $11/page
308 certified writers online
Learn More

Her success as a CEO at eBay did not endear them to her because some analysts termed her leadership style as opportunistic, which focused on financial fundamentals and avoided treading on risky business environments. Many people argued that Margaret Whitman could not be compared with people like the CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Carly Fiorina despite her excellent performance at eBay (Meg Whitman and eBay, 2010). The controversy between those for her and against her leadership style led to the question on what is leadership, what are the functions of a leader, and how did Margaret Whitman lead at eBay?

Literature review


Bolman and Deal (2011) argue that leadership is a complex process that takes multiple dimensions because it can be described from different perspectives. A person can be born a leader or learn to become one. In whichever way leadership skills are acquired, a leader’s qualities include compliant in behavior, the ability to influence others to pursue certain goals, objectives, and perform tasks as required. Bolman and Deal (2011) maintains that leadership is a process that enables the leader to use personal qualities to achieve the laid down goals and objectives. A leader must have a track record of achieving results, technical competence, abstract and strategic thinking abilities and skills, ability to make difficult decisions, a good character, and be able to find and cultivate talent.

A leader derives power from the position held within the organisation applies the power depends on the leadership style of choice. In addition, power can be derived from reward, coercion, or legitimate sources. However, personal and reverent power can be an additional source of power for a leader. According to Kellerman (2004), the commonly used leadership styles in organisations include autocratic leadership where the leader makes decisions and imposes them on the subjects, transactional leadership style, which is based on the exchange of services for pay, transformational leadership whose core interest is how to use the people as resources to transform an organisation, and servant leadership where the leader provides leads by example.

A good leader must have the skills and abilities to focus the workers’ efforts towards achieving organisational goals. In addition, a leader should be persistent, self-confident, tolerant, intelligent, imitative, sociable, motivating, be knowledgeable, emotionally stable, emphatic, and have good cognitive abilities. A good leader must have the self-determination to lead others to work and successes in their efforts. It is important for a leader to have one of the big five personalities, which include openness, agreeableness, neuroticism, extraversion, and consciousness. An effective leader must have good emotional stamina, self-confidence, accountability, dependability, responsibility, credibility, and tenacity.

Functions of a leader

Some of the roles in an organisation include developing mutual trust and good relationship between stakeholders and the people, creating a shared vision, showing competence and integrity, delegating authority, hiring the right people, building and leading effective teams, identifying and relating with good people, and making good decisions. To achieve the leadership roles, a leader must have good listening skills, be strong-willed, ambitious, and energetic. A good leader must be innovative, problem solving, consistent in behavior, and a good communicator (DeNisi & Griffin, 2008).

Case study leadership in eBay

At eBay, Margaret Whitman’s leadership was criticised because she lead with a strong self-determination to work even when the worker thought they could failure in their pursuit of the company’s business goals. Margaret Whitman’s started her leadership career at eBay by hiring the right people to work for the organisation (Patel & McCarthy, 2000). Once she had the right team in place to work with, she quickly identified the right business model to use to increase the market share of the company. In addition, she used the hands-on approach to lead, which is an attribute of the servant leadership style. She also identified some weaknesses in the company’s policies and changed them to suit the new environment. Whitman used performance metrics to evaluate the company’s performance and make necessary adjustments when she was not impressed by the results. In decision-making, she involved customers and employees who made significant contributions to the major development of one of the most powerful e-commerce systems in the world.

Get your
100% original paper
on any topic

done in as little as
3 hours
Learn More


In conclusion, leadership is about planning, organizing, and directing organisational workers to pursue the business goals and objectives. Despite being criticised for her leadership style, Margaret Whitman was one of the most powerful and successful business leaders in the world. She had good leadership qualities such as integrity, reliability, and active listing, which were successfully exemplified in her leadership traits and servant leadership style.


Meg Whitman and eBay: Leadership Case Study. (2010). Web.

Bolman, L. G., & Deal, T. E. (2011). Reframing organizations: Artistry, choice and leadership. New York: John Wiley & Sons. Web.

DeNisi, A.S., & Griffin, R.W. (2008). Human resource management. (3rd edition). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. Web.

Kellerman, B. (2004). Bad leadership: What it is, how it happens, why it matters. London: Harvard Business Press. Web.

Patel, K., & McCarthy, M. P. (2000). Digital transformation: the essentials of e-business leadership. New York: McGraw-Hill Professional. Web.

Print Сite this

Cite this paper

Select style


StudyCorgi. (2020, December 18). Margaret Whitman’s Leadership: EBay Company's Case. Retrieved from

Work Cited

"Margaret Whitman’s Leadership: EBay Company's Case." StudyCorgi, 18 Dec. 2020,

1. StudyCorgi. "Margaret Whitman’s Leadership: EBay Company's Case." December 18, 2020.


StudyCorgi. "Margaret Whitman’s Leadership: EBay Company's Case." December 18, 2020.


StudyCorgi. 2020. "Margaret Whitman’s Leadership: EBay Company's Case." December 18, 2020.


StudyCorgi. (2020) 'Margaret Whitman’s Leadership: EBay Company's Case'. 18 December.

Copy to clipboard

This paper was written and submitted to our database by a student to assist your with your own studies. You are free to use it to write your own assignment, however you must reference it properly.

If you are the original creator of this paper and no longer wish to have it published on StudyCorgi, request the removal.

Psst... Stuck with your
assignment? 😱
Psst... Stuck with your assignment? 😱
Do you need an essay to be done?
What type of assignment 📝 do you need?
How many pages (words) do you need? Let's see if we can help you!