8 Meg Whitman Leadership Style Rules

When Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman was offered the position in 2011, she was reluctant at first. After becoming CEO of Ebay and holding several positions in company giants such as Proctor and Gamble, Bain Y& Co., Disney, to name a few, she said she was done running companies.

Now, after several years of taking over, Whitman has made bold decisions, with the most recent one being the acquisition of the wireless networking firm, Aruba Networks. Another notable achievement of one of the world’s most powerful women was turning eBay from having 30 employees and $5 million in revenues to over 330,000 employees and $8 billion in sales. Just like her friend since her eBay days, Howard Schultz, Meg Whitman is considered a transformational leader.

Transformational leaders focus on team building, empowering and inspiring members of the organization and having a vision. They believe in challenging employees to solve problems by using creativity and imagination. These types of leaders also aim to earn the trust, confidence and respect of their members to make it easier for them to accept and adapt to changes in the organization. Moreover, they know the importance of mentoring and providing career trainings to employees.

1. Do not focus on what is done wrongly in the company but at the opposite.

Although HP still has to overcome its struggles, Whitman was able to turn the wheel around for the tech giant. According to her, being fixated on finding the errors in business operations should not be the case. It is best to identify which actions have been done correctly and continue doing them.

2. Break down barriers.

One of the surprising actions of Whitman as HP CEO was to order the tearing down of barbed-wire fences in the parking lot wherein the area for executives’ vehicles were secluded from employees’ parking spaces. She also had the divisions in the offices removed. Her reason, she wanted everyone to enter the same front door. Symbolism is important to her and these actions just show that she wanted her employees to feel they can interact with each other and are a team. She was also not into lavish offices as evidenced by the simple space she has.

3. Test and Iterate.

When it comes to new products, she believes that manufacturers should not only settle for good enough. She knows that it might take a long period of time to reach perfection and this is not a luxury they can afford in their kind of business. And although this can be challenging in the tech industry, for Whitman, all products should be tested to find out what needs to be redone and this will be repeated until glitches have been fixed. She also encourages her team to incorporate this in their system.

4. Keep your target market in mind.

Customers are very important for Whitman. She believes that companies should be able to identify the needs of their customers and strive to give them the best customer care. She also added that being head of a big company, she is expected to make critical decisions. For this, she looks at the customers and find out what they demand. From there, she can now strategize and set goals to supply the target market what it needs. She said that some leaders have the practice of seeking answers within the organization and taking for granted what they can learn from their customers. While on business trips when she was still with eBay, she would take to people about their experiences as customers so she can improve the quality of service eBay offers and improve on areas that need polishing.

5. Learn to handle your people.

When she became CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Whitman knew she had to deal with employees, including senior managers. She was faced with the challenge on how to get people to adapt to changes in the organization. Also, she knew senior managers can either be retained or let go while some younger executives already know what they want, not to mention the people in between. For her, it is important to evaluate, assess and do the right thing, either get these people on board by motivating them or letting them go. By doing so, a company will end up having the right people at the right time and with the right position.

6. Listen to what your employees are saying.

Meg Whitman believes in the importance of giving your employees the chance to voice out their opinions and learning from it. She knows this because while she was still working for Bain & Co., she came to her then boss and told him about his leadership style and something she was not happy about. That daring move was taken in a positive way by her superior and soon enough, changes were seen at the office from then on. It happened to her and perhaps she was able to apply it to her being at the helm of HP.

7. Be a supportive, participative and knowledgeable leader.

The overturn of eBay and now the work in progress that is Hewlett-Packard is owed to Meg Whitman. She is a firm believer of motivating and inspiring team members which shows how supportive she is as a leader. When it comes to trusting and respecting employees, she is one of the advocates, which makes her a participative leader. And as for being knowledgeable, she shows this through her love for traveling.

8. Inspire employees instead of forcing them to work.

Another factor that makes Meg Whitman a transformational leader is her principle that employees should be motivated and inspired so they can perform at the best. She is a perfect example of a leader who would rather set a good example for her subordinates and let encourage them to be productive and assertive than force them to report to work every day. For her, it is more important to keep employees engaged and happy because this way, they will be more productive and enthusiastic at the workplace.