Sample Reflection Paper on a Leadership Style

Business WritingManagement
Nov 28, 2021

Leadership style is a major influence in a company’s culture and employees’ performance and satisfaction. Over the years, different leadership styles have emerged—some are deemed more effective than others—which leaders favor depending on their characteristics. This reflection paper tackles the leadership style employed by Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, and reflects on its advantages and disadvantages. 

Introduction

Leaders are the main influence of an organization. They influence and inspire their followers to achieve the organization’s goals. A CEO or manager’s leadership style affects the organizational culture and employees’ satisfaction and performance. For this reflection paper , I have chosen to focus on Satya Nadella’s leadership style. Satya Nadella took over as CEO of Microsoft in 2014 and managed to bring Microsoft at the top of the tech industry. Nadella is known for his vision and authenticity as a leader. Since becoming CEO, Nadella demonstrated genuine care for his employees and was able to inspire and empower them to achieve Microsoft’s goals. Based on my research on Nadella’s leadership at Microsoft, I believe that he embodies both transformational leadership and authentic leadership since he focuses on empowering and inspiring his people through his vision, values, and behavior. Although these leadership styles are inspirational and effective, they also have downsides of which Nadella and Microsoft should be cautious. Leaders like Nadella tend to be idealized to the point of blind loyalty, which could lead to a lack of criticism and, therefore, plateauing of the leader’s performance.

Satya Nadella as A Leader

Transformational leadership is a type of leadership that focuses on the growth and development of their people and their needs (Nanjundeswaraswamy and Swamy, 2014). They aim to transform their people and organization by explaining the alignment between behaviors and strategies with a clear vision and values (“Transformational Leadership,” n.d.). In clarifying the organization’s purpose and prioritizing employees’ needs, the leader empowers and motivates employees internally to work toward one goal. In Nadella’s case, transformational leadership is coupled with authentic leadership. Authentic leadership involves presenting one’s authentic self and being honest with one’s people. Authentic leadership is deemed as highly effective in leading millennials and Gen Z because these individuals hold their leaders at a higher standard than older generations did in the past (Prakash, Bisla, and Rastogi, 2021). Authentic leaders promote an environment and culture that encourages creativity through “actions guided by beliefs, values, and words” (Prakash, Bisla, and Rastogi, 2021, 98). Authentic leadership is an effective way to lead by example since the leader inspires their people to embody certain values and work toward a directive by doing the same. When transformational and authentic leadership are combined, the leader’s influence becomes deeply ingrained in their followers such that the followers act on their own volition in accordance with the organization’s values and goals.

Satya Nadella joined Microsoft in 1992 where he helped develop Windows NT. He slowly rose through the ranks where he showed how to be an effective leader . When he took over from Steve Ballmer as Microsoft’s Chief Executive Officer, he oversaw the acquisition of Nokia Corp. and then immediately laid off around 18,000 positions. Nevertheless, Nadella was able to pull Microsoft back to its former position as a top tech company. From the beginning of his tenure, Nadella established a genuine connection with his employees by sending a heartfelt e-mail, as well as held an “ask me anything” session every month where employees are encouraged to ask about concerns and issues, and which he answers transparently. Other Microsoft higher-ups have been reported to hold the same sessions (Kassa, 2018). Although the company struggled in the beginning of his leadership as a result of previous decisions, Nadella did not lose his employees’ trust. They understood the reasons for the lay-offs and various decisions, so they knew that Nadella’s strategies were not motivated by personal interests. Nadella clearly used his authority for the benefit of Microsoft and everyone who worked there, and it was well-known among the employees. Nadella’s authenticity as a leader possibly made his results-driven approach effective. 

Nadella also transformed the company with a new mission and strategy that emphasized innovation and creativity, individual empowerment, empathy, and the growth of employees. These are all aligned with the aims of transformational and authentic leadership. Nadella employs a “Never Say NO” approach as a result of his empathic leadership and supports the growth of employees (Prakash, Bisla, and Rastogi, 2021, 105). These two are conducive to the improvement of employee satisfaction and loyalty. Since employees saw that Nadella was dedicated toward their individual growth and the growth of the company, they must have been inspired to do the same. As a result, employees were inspired to tap into their creativity and strive hard to produce the kinds of products that ultimately propelled Microsoft back to the top. Nadella is a great example that loyalty is reciprocated in the organization. 

Since his promotion as Microsoft’s CEO, Nadella has received a lot of attention. He was awarded “Best CEO for Diversity 2020” as well as received a lot of attention in the media (Prakash, Bisla, and Rastogi, 2021). Critiques of transformational leadership warn that transformational leaders who are very charismatic may become idealized and, therefore, may not receive feedback and suggestions from their followers even when they genuinely ask for it (Baran, 2019). The reason for this is not a lack of confidence or fear of the leader but simply excessive trust in the leader. A lack of feedback on the leader may lead to stagnation of the leader’s growth. Employees may be tempted to deny any failures or mistakes made by their leader, which is potentially detrimental to the company (Baran, 2019). Furthermore, since there is excessive trust in a leader, they may also be tempted to abuse their power. They may try to stay as CEO and neglect to develop successors. Since transformational and authentic leadership could potentially breed blind loyalty as a result of inspiration, the company’s ethics and effectiveness could suffer.

Conclusion

At the moment, Satya Nadella is a positive influence in Microsoft and in the business sector as a whole. He is using the limelight to promote diversity and innovation in the business sector, especially during and after the COVID-19 pandemic ((“In First Person: Satya Nadella,” 2020). Microsoft was one of the companies that offered flexibility and additional support to employees at the onset of the pandemic, even encouraging other companies to evolve along with the changing needs of society and their employees (“In First Person: Satya Nadella,” 2020). Nadella, without a doubt, continues to embody transformational and authentic leadership despite being CEO seven years now. Nadella is proof that although these two styles of leadership are considered soft, especially when compared with transactional leadership and other similar styles, they are capable of producing results, and even managed to bring Microsoft back to its former glory after years of struggling to keep up with new technology innovations by their competitors. Overall, transformational and authentic leadership are two leadership styles that are positively crucial in today’s world where everyone—companies and employees alike—are struggling with the effects of a pandemic.

Reflection papers are a common assignment for high school and college students. It encourages deep thought and analysis of an event, experience, or person while applying concepts learned in class. Students who need help expressing their ideas into sentences can get help from CustomEssayMeister.

 


References

Baran, S. (2019, February 9). Criticisms and arguments against transformational leadership. LinkedIn. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/criticisms-arguments-against-transformational-leadership-%C3%B6z 

In First Person: Satya Nadella.  (2020). SHRM Executive Network – People+Strategy Journal. https://www.shrm.org/executive/resources/people-strategy-journal/fall2020/pages/in-first-person.aspx

Kassa, M. (2018, December 17). Uncovering a leadership style: Satya Nadella. LinkedIn . https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/uncovering-leadership-style-satya-nadella-mekonnen-kassa

Nanjundeswaraswamy, T. S., & Swamy, D. R. (2014, February). Leadership Style. Advances in Management, 7(2), https://d1wqtxts1xzle7.cloudfront.net/51993044/leadership_styles-with-cover-page-v2.pdf?Expires=1637977179&Signature=cooq6d1cA7DfQOrje6NzFC5ZcnyHhXfiPvdhow6rxsiASRya~kMAonteKXUygeGp5VGGL2bDLQpK7bmJGdsnnwMpFHlXaWrWDj0Sw3Qbhrgp0u8QLDXHu4ejvrlsIzoeaQ0vD-70AdbDNf7hLnGKpkhfGvV7~mj1lGhbIPYR8zkyaZnmqkaKIBSGq9ANNHfwMx~cJRgUJjWATpq4RF-QF9~2yWEDfVI8SPSOv5ZJslDb6Qum0sddpWilFs8ZRTh5P3QlSDRP9wCbD5X2cxmTf3hq1tXPlKcT8fnxNd8TbBPlddzskVpvywaApBHqELLopFDbQcqsd3dafxpqRcVnmw__&Key-Pair-Id=APKAJLOHF5GGSLRBV4ZA

Prakash, D., Bisla, M., and Rastogi, S. G. (2021, June 8). Understanding authentic leadership style: The Satya Nadella Microsoft approach. Open Journal of Leadership,  10, pp. 95-109. http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/ojl.2021.102007

Transformational Leadership. (n.d.). Langston University. https://www.langston.edu/sites/default/files/basic-content-files/TransformationalLeadership.pdf 

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