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The Story Of “Alibaba” And The Leadership Of Its Owner Jack Ma (Essay Sample)



The Story of “Alibaba” and the Leadership of its Owner Jack Ma Name: University: Abstract Jack Ma, a Chinese business mogul, philanthropist, and investor is globally renowned for his entrepreneurship journey that led him to his current status. He is the self-made millionaire, Founder, and CEO of Alibaba, an entity of the Alibaba Group Holding Limited who has been transcending the world as he imparts knowledge regarding his business ventures’ success. He is among the most admired entrepreneurs globally and has continued to surpass virtually-set economic records with his company. He has the world's second-biggest internet trading company despite coming from a humble background in China. He is an inspiration to many people who follow him and desire to achieve things as he has. His creation, Alibaba is among the most prominent in the world, increasing its profits annually. He has been successful in creating a differentiating business model that other companies utilize for benchmarking. Introduction First, it is important to understand the concept of leadership. According to Randall, (2016), leadership is that act of motivating a group of individuals to perform towards achieving common specific objectives. This particular leadership definition covers the essentials of the capability to inspire other people and be prepared to take the responsibility. Effective leadership is grounded in ideas, which could either be borrowed or original (Gray, 2015). However, effecting leadership would be impossible if the leader is unable to communicate the ideas with the rest of the group in such a manner that compels them to act as required by the leader. Simply put, a leader is that inspirational person, initiator, and director of actions. A leader is an individual within a set group that has the combination of leadership skills and personality that inspires others to desire to pursue his or her course. A good leader possesses various significant characteristics. He or she has to have honesty, integrity, passion and commitment, accountability, empowerment and delegation, innovation and creativity, and good communication skills (Collins, 2014). In addition, he or she has to possess the confidence and will to inspire others. Another trait that is important is decision making, which means that the leader has to be firm and unwavering in his or her choices for action. In the same breadth, good leaders have to possess various positive traits and behaviors that others can desire to emulate. They have to be charismatic, listen intently, learn continuously, learn from experience, the ability to view things from others' perspectives, and view the big picture (Abiodun, 2010). They also have to see challenges as being only temporary and surmountable. Also, they should possess the capacity to deal effectively with disapproval, stress on progressively improving their groups, and be clear in what they want to undertake both professionally and in personal life. Leaders also face various challenges. There is the challenge of maintaining humility during stints of success, maintaining confidence during setbacks or turmoil, taking a back seat so others within the setting can step up, and leading change (leaders do not just act, they alter things) (Abiodun, 2010). Leaders also face the challenge of admitting to mistakes, which emanates from being honest and self-aware. Leadership style describes the manner in which a particular leader directs, motivates and implements plans with his or her subordinates towards achieving common goals. There are various styles of leadership. These include autocratic leadership (where the focus is centered on the leader in terms of responsibility and authority), democratic leadership, strategic leadership, team leadership, transformational leadership, cross-cultural leadership, and facilitative leadership (Iqbal, 2011). There are also laissez-faire, transactional, coaching, charismatic, and visionary leadership styles. The Story of Alibaba and Jack Ma’s Leadership Born Ma Yun, but professionally known as Jack Ma, he was born in 1964 in Hangzhou, China (Stone & D'Onfro, 2014). He is a magnate, philanthropist, and investor. He is the executive chairman and founder of the Alibaba Group, which is a multinational technology conglomerate. As of April 2018, Ma is the richest man in China with a net worth amounting to US$42.7 billion (Investopedia, 2018). During the Cultural Revolution period when he was born, his family faced persecution because his grandparents subscribed to the Nationalist Party. Throughout his life, right from childhood to the time he built his multi-billion dollars empire, he had failed numerous times, was called crazy, and had been rejected. His father was among his biggest detractors when he admonished Ma’s unique and perilous conceptions. For earlier generations, such ideas could have led to convictions. In terms of education, Ma learned more from his own and others’ failures through the conventional education channels (Stone & D'Onfro, 2014; Investopedia, 2018). He failed a key primary school exam twice, and after graduation, he was rejected for many positions he applied for, as well as college. He was the sole applicant out of five to be rejected when he applied for the police force. He also applied to be a manager at KFC but got rejected. He applied to join Harvard University a record ten times and got turned down on all occasions. After starting Alibaba in 1999, he tried to obtain venture capital funding in the famous Silicon Valley and got turned down for operating an unprofitable business. Eventually, he returned to China without the funding. In contrast with many venerated college drop-outs who turned out to be successful entrepreneurs, including Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg, Ma obtained his MBA from the Cheung Kong University in the early 2000s while already running Alibaba. Ma is fond of academics, despite being critical of the traditional teaching practices. Personally, he was an English lecturer at the university and often speaks about returning to the profession in the future. Ma himself admits that he struggled academically. However, he was exceptional in learning about the things that fascinated him (Ray, 2017). Together with 17 other people, Ma established Alibaba Group in 1999.from the onset, the Group’s founders shared a common belief that the internet would leverage the playing field through enabling small businesses to leverage technology and innovation to compete more effectively in the domestic and universal economies, as well as (Alibaba Group, 2018). Since introducing its debutant website to assist small Chinese exporters, entrepreneurs, and manufacturers to sell their wares globally, the Group has grown into one of the global leaders in mobile and online commerce. Presently, the Group and its associated companies operate large retail and online marketplaces and businesses in innovative initiatives, digital media, entertainment, and cloud computing, among others. Currently, the company is even more successful than Amazon and eBay put together. In fact, Alibaba was the reason for Ebay's exit from the Chinese market (Success Story, 2017). However, it is critical to note that despite the company commencing operations in 1999, it only started to return profits in 2001. Despite Jack Ma being the founder and the known face behind Alibaba, he is not actually the chief executive officer. He stepped down as the CEO in 2013 and Jonathan Lu took over the position a few months later (McGregor, 2014). Daniel Zhang rook over the position in May 2015 and Lu remained as Vice Chairman. The company’s biggest challenge was to strengthen cross-border e-commerce. Similarly, it faced the challenge of fending off competitors to its Tmall Global platform (Spitzer, 2015). Chinese consumers demanded authentic foreign products and the company faced the challenge of determining the authenticity of products penetrating the market. However, it is prudent to point out that Alibaba is among the few conglomerates that have avoided leadership crises. MA is also referred to as “crazy Ma” in some circles because of his unorthodox style of leadership and management (Zakkour, 2014). Ma's leadership style can be described as visionary. He had the firm belief that leaders ought to have ample foresight. According to Dilts (2017), a visionary leader is usually inspiring in terms of vision and assists others to continue seeing the manner in which they can contribute towards shaping the vision. Similarly, a visionary leader motivates his team to move collectively towards that shared vision of the future. From Ma's experiences, it is evident that he was a visionary from an early age. Despite rejections, he persisted with his ideas and never faltered (McGregor, 2014). When he did not get the venture capital funding that he wanted for Alibaba, he pressed on and managed to transform it into the conglomerate that it is today. In contemporary business settings, leadership is now a clear-cut requirement for sustained and continued growth (Chiemelie, 2017). Ma has taken this challenge head-on and continues to venture into different areas. For example, he invested in Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation, which is a movie (Forbes, 2016). Ma is usually not deterred by a poor prevailing situation, which is a trait of a good visionary leader. When he introduced Chinese Pages, a directory of Chinese businesses, and failed, he returned four years later with the concept of Alibaba, which succeeded beyond expectations. Jack Ma also falls into the coaching leadership category. Coaching leadership style stresses on individual development and demonstrating to people regarding the manner in which to transform their conceptions or dreams into realities. Ma was quoted in one of his speeches saying, “that the best investment is investing in the youth” (The Wall Street Journal, n.d.)....
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