Since the company went public last spring, the stock has fallen from its opening high of $38 to below $10 last week. It’s rebounded, but not by much. There are calls for Zuckerberg’s head. NBC-TV quoted a guest as saying “Zuckerberg should step down.” Another stated, “The game has changed.”
Is Zuckerberg a Good Leader?
The New York Times wrote in an article about ’s tumble, “Some of the scrutiny has been on Mr. Zuckerberg’s leadership. The very qualities that created the fairy tale aura around him, including his youth and ambition, are what even his admirers are questioning.”
Pretty harsh words for a young man who founded a company that has almost 1 billion users. But financial markets only care about how facebook can turn its huge fan base into a profitable revenue stream. Advertisers aren’t convinced yet.
What is Leadership?
So back to Zuckerberg’s leadership qualities. A while back I wrote a post based on an article the management guru John Kotter wrote in the Harvard Business Review. I cited Zuckerberg as one of the true visionaries of his time – but that was before the company went public and reality set in.
Here is Kotter’s definition of leadership, which is different than management.
Leadership is about coping with change
Management is about coping with complexity
When facebook went public, it was a seismic change, opening the company up to close scrutiny. Leaders need to be visionaries, says Kotter, but “what’s crucial about a vision is not its originality but how well it serves the interests of important constituencies – customers, stockholders, employees – and how easily it can be translated into a realistic competitive strategy.”
So, by Kotter’s definition, is Zuckerberg lacking the necessary leadership skills to move the company forward? Time will tell.
What do you think? Should Mark Zuckerberg step down – or maybe step up to chairman – and bring a new CEO on board to right the ship?