In the modern age and times, firms have evolved from being just a profit-making enterprise for the owner, to being a wholesome place for the employees to work. Leadership styles have also changed from being authoritative to democratic. One of the best examples of an ideal leader in the modern business environment is the Executive Chairman of Google Inc., Erich Schmidt (Carlson, 2009). In this research paper, the leadership style of Eric Schmidt and why it is so popular would be analyzed in detail.
Born in 1955, Erich E. 0Schmidt has Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Electrical Engineering, and a Ph. D in Computer Science. Subsequently, he joined Sun and served there for 14 years at several technical positions. Schmidt served as the CEO and Chairman at Novell for five years. Finally, in 2001, he took the positions of both CEO and Chairman at Google, Inc. He has also served as a board member at Apple from 2006-09 (Blanchard, 2003). Furthermore, he was also elected in the National Academy of Engineering in 2006 along with being inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007. Additionally, he was also the Chairman at the New America Foundation, in 2009. Also, he is the member of trustees’ board at the Carnegie Mellon University and Princeton University.
Describing Leadership Style of Eric Schmidt
According to the behavioral theory of leadership, leaders exhibit two types of behaviors which include the concern for the people and the concern for production (Carlson, 2009). As per the behavioral theories, Schmidt showed concern for people. In fact, the most important and primary characteristic of Schmidt’s leadership style is the importance he attaches to his employees, valuing them as assets. While speaking about his success as a leader, Schmidt always mentions the significance of human asset and how he is proud of the people he hires. His motto is “ In the modern high-tech industry, you are nothing without people” (Mitchell, 2007). Schmidt had always emphasized on the fact the listening is to people is the most important condition for innovation to occur. Thus, Schmidt’s style of making the human asset the center of focus, has made Google the huge organization it is today.
According to the participative leadership theory, the leaders involve their employees in the decision making process (Blanchard, 2003). This aspect is clearly reflected in Schmidt’s leadership style and in is his desire to be build an organization. For example, while he was working at Sun as the manager of the engineering division, he built his entire team from scratch. Once again, at Novell, he restructured the entire organization which brought about a turnaround in the company. Apparently, Schmidt believed in shared leadership model and stated that people perform optimally only when they are not undercutting each other.
The above two characteristics of the leadership styles followed by Eric Schmidt points towards the fact he followed the supportive leadership style. Also known as the transformational leadership style, where in the leader believes that, through vision and passion great things can be achieved (Mitchell, 2007). The leader, like Schmidt, believes in getting the work done by injecting energy and enthusiasm with the employees. Schmidt always believed that inspiring people is important to make them follow him.
Behaviors and Character Traits Shown By Eric Schmidt
For the purpose of clearly understanding the behaviors and character traits showed by Eric Schmidt, they would be categorized on the basis of strengths and weaknesses.
One of the most important strengths of the transformational leadership style followed by Schmidt is set high expectations from himself in order to achieve the most optimal results. For instance, while, at Sun Schmidt set an expectation of being the ideal engineering manager, and, as a result he performed so well that he became the Chief Technology Officer of the organization. Another of his major strengths was to keep on trying new ideas. In fact, it is his constant and continual need for innovation that has helped in making the Google one the best places in the world to work. This need for creating something new was the reason Schmidt left Sun in the first place to join Novell (Blanchard, 2003). His high goals along with the need for innovation makes him the perfect combination for being the ideal leader. In addition, Schmidt also shows traits of constant self-improvement. For example, he felt that the MIT College program had very narrow perspective, and then chose to join Princeton University instead. Similarly, he pursued his Doctoral degree only because he felt that it sets him apart from the rest of the candidates (Morrow, 2000). In addition, his character trait of being able to analyze his own flaws and work towards the betterment also helps in making him a great leader. Not only does he works on improving his flaws, but he also appreciates and welcomes criticism. For example, when Google was being criticized for trust issues, he simply remarked, “ I believe criticism to be healthy because it makes us better by informing us” (Mitchell, 2007).
All literature on leadership behaviors and styles have pointed out towards the disadvantages of using only one leadership style and the importance of mixed approaches. One of the biggest weakness shown by Schmidt is his total reliance on only one leadership style. For example, when Schmidt entered Novell, almost 60 people resigned along with five executive managers. Consequently, Novell had to enter into a merger (Blanchard, 2003). Thus, this shows that his leadership style of restructuring was not very successful at Novell. Another important weakness his concept of individual innovation.
Impact on Organization
The success of Eric Schmidt as a CEO of Google is undisputable. During his tenure as CEO of Google, the company achieved a remarkable record of unmatched and steady growth with consistency. It also experienced incredible expansion, global footprint, and prosperity owing to Eric’s innovative and strong leadership philosophy (Mitchell, 2007). The annual revenue approached unprecedentedly, and the company successfully moved forward on the path of diversification of income streams apart from just an internet search engine. The greatest examples of the result oriented and creative management style of Eric is the purchase of YouTube entity and development of greatly popular Android OS.
Although, it has often been overlooked, but the internal motor that keeps the Google running at high speed is the commitment of Eric Schmidt to recruit the brightest and best talents of the world (Carlson, 2009). Important part of this plan is encouragement to the recruited talent to collaborate and cooperate with other individuals and teams while permitting creative, free flowing space and time to think beyond the ordinary, to come up with new ideas and methods. The incredibly unconventional set up of workplace at Google requires exceptional vision and talent management of cutting-edge standard by leaders of the company. Eric Schmidt’s views on technology, business, and leadership can be a source of knowledge for many (Morrow. 2000). He is one of the brightest and best thinkers and business leaders of our time. Eric is of the view that the organizational model and structure of Google may not be the apt model for every organization. He believes in hiring the best talent that one can afford and find (Richmond, 2010). The impact of his vision on the organization depends on the following factors-:
Hiring and managing talent
Eric Schmidt talks about hiring those individuals who have a passion for excelling even if they may not be the best fit for the organization. He is against the strategy of hiring acquaintances and friends of the employees rather he suggests to hire talented individuals who can later be stimulated to blend in the organizational culture (Blanchard, 2003). Schmidt is also known for following a policy of discord and deadline to build consensus among the staff instead of managing them. According to his opinion, consensus does not hold value without discord but he prefers to place a deadline for a goal for superior performance. Thus, this shows that Eric places great emphasis on hiring talent and encouraging them to perform while leaving space for disagreement (Mitchell, 2007). The success of Eric at Novell, Sun, and Google can be attributed, to a certain extent, to his endeavors to energize the work force. He tries to be aware of the weaknesses and strengths of his employees.
Google has a very interesting policy of allowing employees to work on whatever they want for 20 percent of the working hours. This makes sure that the employees stay motivated as they are not forced to toil hard for projects for the whole day. This decreases the space for subconscious dissatisfaction or resentment (Carlson, 2009). It also serves the purpose of keeping the fire of creativity of the hired talent burning while ensuring that the productivity levels stay high.
In conclusion, it can be said that the Eric Schmidt’s leadership style is not only effective but also the most important factor behind the success of Google. In fact, the Partnership Model Context used by him had made him a legend in the digital age. In addition, Eric Schmidt has also showed the world many ways for changing the face of any business. For example, a bottom-up approach followed at Google has led to the generations of numerous breakthrough innovations that the organization has come up with (Blanchard, 2003). Also, Google’s success, globally, monetarily, corporately and social is the best example of what the leadership style followed by Eric Schmidt can do. However, it is also to be noticed that the leadership style followed by Schmidt may not be the most suitable for all organizations (Mitchell, 2007). Thus, it is important for the managers to observe and then apply the most suitable of Schmidt’s visions and philosophies in their own organizations.
Blanchard, K. Leadership partnering for performance. In Segil, L., Goldsmith, M. & Belasco, J. (Eds), Partnering: The New Face of Leadership. 2003. Retrieved from http://msbcollege. skillport. com
Carlson, N. Google CEO Eric Schmidt: ” We Don’t Really Have A Five-Year Plan” (CLIP). 2009. Retrieved from: http://www. businessinsider. com
Mitchell, R. How to Manage Geeks. 2007. Retrieved from: http://www. fastcompany. com
Morrow, S. D. Transcript of a Video History Interview with Eric Schmidt. 2000. Retrieved from: http://www. cwhonors. org
Richmond, S. Eric Schmidt Leadership Style. The Daily Telegraph. London: UK. 2010. pg. 31