Despite many arguments to the contrary, this generation is positioned as the most caring and philanthropic in history. Mark Zuckerberg, 31, is undeniably a leader of his generation – Millennials - and his leadership style is a clear telling of this increase of awareness. He has certainly made social responsibility and accountability the new norm. He not only gives Millennials an example to live by his timeless principles to success, but has also given them a platform for advocacy where altruism and capitalism are finely balanced on the edge of technological advances.
“Our goal is not to build a platform; it's to be cross all of them.”
Within weeks of launching Facebook.com in 2004, Zuckerberg expanded the site to Columbia, Yale and Stanford, and 29 other schools by the end of the year. Today, Facebook is the most expansive site on the Internet. An average user spends 50 minutes of each day on its Facebook, Messenger and Instagram platforms. A billion and a half people use the main core Facebook service. To further grow out these services, Zuckerberg is betting on artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and bringing the internet to the 60 percent of people worldwide who aren’t yet connected.
The ambitious Facebook founder, wants to build an interconnected world where all people have a chance to make the most of their talents. These goals may sound lofty and unachievable but it’s one of the main reasons why Facebook is where it is today.
“In a world that changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”
Successful business leaders are creative. They are always on the lookout for new ideas and risk-taking and expect people to do the same. Zuckerberg constantly challenges his team by asking: Why. It’s a three-letter word and yet far more effective in reaching deeper towards things that ultimately matter - towards innovative products ideas and business models. Had Zuckerberg stifled his employees’ creativity by never asking ‘why’ the world would have a different, less creative version of Instagram and Facebook.
“Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission - to make the world more open and connected.”
In 2013, Facebook enlisted Qualcomm, Nokia, Samsung and other tech companies to help it found Internet.org, an initiative dedicated to bringing the four billion plus people worldwide who aren’t yet connected. Last year, Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan created the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and committed 99% of their wealth to taking on challenges like improving education, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities.
Leadership is about doing what is right. It’s about finding the right balance between altruism and capitalism. Shortly before Chan was to give birth, Zuckerberg announced a full two months paternity leave, the first of its kind. He also announced the Facebook employees would be given four months of paid parental leave, setting a strong example for other companies to deeply care about others.
“We want Facebook to be one of the best places people can go to learn how to build stuff. If you want to build a company, nothing better than jumping in and trying to build one. But Facebook is also great for entrepreneurs/hackers. If people want to come for a few years and move on and build something great, that's something we're proud of.”
From the start, Zuckerberg has built connections and relationships with the juggernauts of Silicon Valley. Whether it is investors, suppliers, or distributors, Zuckerberg has partnered with the right people at the right time. For Zuckerberg, the strength of his network isn’t by the number of Facebook friends he has but, rather by the number of relationships and alliances in the service of Facebook Inc.’s goals.
Zuckerberg lets his leadership team preserve Facebook’s culture, product development, and advertising and strategic issues around policy. In order to connect the world, Zuckerberg wants as many people as he can to meet and make a big difference. It’s rightly said, ‘power is the ability to get things done.’
“There are people who are really good managers, people who can manage a big organization, and then there are people who are very analytic or focused on strategy. Those two types don't usually tend to be in the same person. I would put myself much more in the latter camp.”
Many CEOs ignore information and think their business is doing well. In the early days of Facebook, Zuckerberg spent most of his days hanging out with moguls, dining at elite restaurants and flying private jets. He also had a bit of an attitude problem, one such example was his business card, “I’m a CEO, Bitch,” it read. This was the time when employees started getting alienated, demoralized and the whole shebang was gradually harming the social network company.
It was then Zuckerberg realized that he had to evaluate criticism and act on it. He started taking CEO lessons from some of the world’s greatest leaders. As a company grows, young leaders often jump to move as fast as they can and try to disrupt the scene. Rather, Zuckerberg sought out conventional wisdom from successful CEO’s and then took clear-cut action. Taking criticism in the right stride is one of his main principles to success.
Another example, more of a personal story, is when the movie The Social Network, came out which rather showed him in an unflattering light. Instead of withering in the face of the public criticism, he did not dampen his spirits and even took Facebook Inc.’s staff for a screening of the movie.
In recent times, in the growing criticism over privacy allegations, Zuckerberg adapted his decision to be of public opinion and gave users more control over their privacy.
The greatest thing about world’s greatest leaders is that they make it look so easy. When in fact, it’s not. Leadership takes courage, persistence, and the ability to connect with people that allows them to live the mission of the company. Zuckerberg, unlike many of his rivals, has managed to keep his leadership with the principles to success, in spite of not having it all so easy.