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]
Reuters. (2017, April 13). Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s iron grip poses challenge in COO search. Economic Times. Retrieved from http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/small-biz/startups/uber-ceo-travis-kalanicks-iron-grip-poses-challenge-in-coo-search/articleshow/58168763.cms
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.scmp.com/magazines/post-magazine/article/1860723/travis-kalanick-fall-and-spectacular-rise-man-behind-uber
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?