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Change-Oriented Leadership: Transformational and Charismatic Leaders (Essay Sample)


Travis Kalanick was the founding CEO of the ride-sharing giant Uber. Under his leadership, Uber has become a globally successful firm with a valuation over $60 billion. Kalanick is in his early forties, but Uber is the third firm that he started. Earlier in his career he founded the file-sharing company Scour which ended up going bankrupt due to lawsuits. He had more success with another file-sharing company called Red Swoosh which he later sold for $19 million.
In spite of all of his accomplishments and success, he has always been a controversial CEO. Recently he was caught on video berating an Uber driver, a video that went viral. He has also faced allegations of fostering a toxic corporate culture. After facing a continuing wave of negative publicity, Kalanick had to step aside as CEO, but remains as a powerful member of Uber’s Board of Directors. He is also still one of their major shareholders, so even though another CEO will be managing the day-to-day, affairs he is likely to remain as a major leader within Uber.
For this paper you should first thoroughly review the background readings and make sure you are clear on the distinction between charismatic, transformational, and transactional leadership. Then do some research on Travis Kalanick’s leadership style. There is no shortage of articles about Travis Kalanick and Uber. But harder to find are articles on what kind of leader he is and how he leads his employees. Here are a few articles to get you started, but if you can find articles that are more recent or have more information about his leadership style, feel free to use them in your paper instead:
Hook, L. (2017, March 10). Uber: The crisis inside the “cult of Travis.” Financial Times, p. 11. [ProQuest]
Somerville, H. (2017, April 13). Uber CEO’s iron grip poses challenge in COO search. Reuters. Retrieved from https://www(dot)reuters(dot)com/article/us-uber-governance/uber-ceos-iron-grip-poses-challenge-in-coo-search-idUSKBN17F1CO?il=0
Fast Company. (2015, September 25). Travis Kalanick, the fall and spectacular rise of the man behind Uber. South China Morning Post. Retrieved from http://www(dot)scmp(dot)com/magazines/post-magazine/article/1860723/travis-kalanick-fall-and-spectacular-rise-man-behind-uber
Paschen, M., & Dihsmaier, E. (2014). The psychology of human leadership: How to develop charisma and authority. Chapter 2: Leadership, Personality, and Charisma: How to Generate Leadership Strength Through Confidence and Trust. Retrieved from EBSCO eBook Collection. [eBook Business Collection]
Gautier, V. (2016). From charismatic to transactional leadership: Using a reward system when necessary [Video file]. Coursera. Retrieved from https://www(dot)coursera(dot)org/learn/leading-sense/lecture/lkvDL/3-from-charismatic-to-transactional-leadership-using-a-reward-system-when
Wood, A. (2009). Becoming a transformational leader. Retrieved from EBSCO eBook Collection. [eBook Business Collection]
Now read deeper into these topics with the following two readings. The Luthans, Luthans, and Luthans (2015) book is especially important because it covers all three types of leadership. The Barine and Minja (2012) book chapter provides a detailed comparison of transformational and transactional leadership.
Luthans, F., Luthans, K. W., & Luthans, B. C. (2015). Chapter 13: Effective leadership processes. In Organizational Behavior: An Evidence-based Approach (pp. 390-393). Charlotte, North Carolina: Information Age Publishing. Retrieved from EBSCO eBook Collection. [eBook Business Collection]
Note: You don’t have to read the whole chapter, just the pages on charismatic,
Barine, A., & Minja, D. (2012). Chapter 2: Definitions of transformational leadership. In Transformational corporate leadership (pp. 32-47). Luton, Bedfordshire, GBR: Andrews LTD. [eBook Business Collection]
After you have reviewed the background materials and done some research on Travis Kalanick, write a 4- to 5-page paper addressing the issues below. Make sure to cite both required background readings such as Barine and Minja (2012) or Luthans et al. (2015) as well as specific articles on Travis Kalanick.
Does Travis Kalanick meet the definition of a charismatic leader based on what you’ve read? Explain your answer using both the required background textbook readings as well as specific information you found about Kalanick.
Does Travis Kalanick meet the definition of a transformational leader based on what you’ve read? Explain your answer using both the required background textbook readings as well as specific information you found about Kalanick.
Does Travis Kalanick meet the definition of a transactional leader based on what you’ve read? Explain your answer using both the required background textbook readings as well as specific information you found about Kalanick.
Overall, what do you believe are the main benefits and drawbacks of Travis Kalanick’s approach to leadership? Do you think he needs to make major changes in his leadership style?


Course Code:
Travis Kalanick
Leadership styles are fluid and, in most cases, they overlap. Some leaders exhibit different versions of their leadership styles in and out of their offices. In the case of Travis Kalanick, his leadership style seems to overlap between charismatic and transformational leader and transactional leader. He has in many instances showed that he possesses varying degrees of these leadership styles. As a transformational leader, he has led his company to pioneer technology in ridesharing and continues to spearhead other developments and changes to its service delivery intended to change its product list and enhance the utility of Uber’s products. As a transactional leader, he has structured a culture where he rewards loyalty and some information such that it has birthed a culture where some employees withhold some information from one another to use it to seek career growth CITATION Les17 \l 1033 (Hook, 2017). As a charismatic leader, he has inspired his employees with his often-controversial remarks to be aggressive, assertive and do anything to dominate the industry.

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