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Hugh Hefner Essay

Hugh Hefner was an extraordinary innovator, entrepreneur and revolutionist. The sex obsessed pop culture and generation can recognize the seed of its foundation for being planted by a man who chose to do as he wished. Still yet to be uprooted despite its negative nature, the media has embraced sex as a great advertisement. Hugh Hefner fits into a special category of leadership called transformational. Transformational leaders enhance their followers’ morale and performance through various avenues and that’s exactly what Mr. Hefner completed. In a world where public indecency was frowned upon and sexual behaviors were kept behind closed doors, Hugh Hefner did the unthinkable. Although Hefner was successful in his career, he was not always proactive.

During his early years, Hugh Hefner was called unenthusiastic by his professors and teachers. Surprisingly, that is a key is a key element to any type of leadership, positive or negative. Luckily that attribute developed for Mr. Hefner which enabled him to become a great professional and businessman. Later on Hugh Hefner served in the United States army for two years and resigned in 1946. During his time in the army Mr. Hefner did not exhibit great leadership skills as well. It would seem that Hugh Hefner was not born a leader according to the text. Though he was blessed with traits of the Great Man theories, he lacked skill and application of leadership. After Hugh Hefner’s retirement from the army he enrolled in college at the University of Illinois. Hugh Hefner was not a very involved student during his college career but he managed to land a job at the widely know Esquire Magazine corporation. Starting off as a typewriter, Mr. Hefner worked his way to become a publicist, but quit after he was denied a five dollar raise.

That attitude showed the Hugh Hefner was detrimined to make money and was not taking no for an answer. It all started when Hugh was taking a few graduate sociology courses at Northwestern University; he wrote a paper about the Kinsey report, which produced a more open discussion of sexual acts in America. Mr. Hefner is widely known as the greatest bachelor of all time due to his Playboy magazine which first launched in December 1953. After Mr. Hefner’s first publications began to sale featuring Marilyn Monroe, the critics stepped in. Even though earning a staggering forty three million dollars in net worth feels great, it does not come easily. While people called Mr. Hefner things like pervert and degenerate, his money began to speak and people began to listen. Soon those criticizing words changed into rebel and genius. It was a terrific time to release a new sexy magazine right after the great depression.

People needed something to get their minds off of the economy and nothing does that better than sex. Playboy magazine was named after an automobile company in Chicago because Hugh Hefner thought it resembled high class and high class is what he became. As CEO and owner of Playboy magazine Mr. Hefner is in a class of his own. Mr. Hefner being himself and sticking to an idea that fought so much controversy at its time of creation represents volume to his authentic style of leadership. Hugh Hefner has been an icon and trendsetter in the Anglo culture and will be remember for a long time. He shaped media and transformed it into something new. Professional Hugh Hefner is an icon of business and entrepreneurship but how does the common American view him? Though Hugh Hefner has made great contributions in business, what has his efforts done to society?

With most great businessmen there reaches a debate of morality and ethics. On the side of business you have a man that transformed mass media and produced more revenue. While on the side of morality you have a man that made a country lustful mainstream sex addicts. The real question is that what can you classify Mr. Hefner as; pseudo transformational or transformational? Was his personal achievement worth the so called “perversion” of media? In the business aspect, sex is the most widely used form of advertising since the release of Playboy and yes it sells. The term sex sells means as true statement. People want to feel sexy and the want to feel attractive, so if a product is conveying that message then why not buy it? The level of sexual content in advertisements has definitely got out of control since the 60s but there are more channels of communication in media now.

Some individuals may say that Mr. Hefner is not responsible for everybody’s’ actions. The opposition could say that leaders, especially transformational ones are the ground breakers and innovators who people follow. It is true that Hefner brought change to marketing and media because that’s what transformational leaders do; they bring change. Other than his external impact on society as a businessman Hugh Hefner’s internal love for his employees will always be remembered. The famous Playboy mansion is home to all of Hefner’s employees if wanted. Each Playboy bunny is given a salary and has virtually no living expenses under Hefner’s management. While living in the playboy mansion, institutional collectivism is greatly reinforced.

According to the Michigan University studies Hugh Hefner would produce an employee oriented management. His high consideration for his employees would back that statement. As a leader, living with your bottom level employees is a noble deed and shows his openness as a leader. The technical term for that practice is called authentic leadership and Mr. Hefner is just that. From an outward perspective it seems as if working for Mr. Hefner has a lot of positives. It would appear that all employees would be considered as members of the in group but the everyday relationship between him and his employees is uncertain. He created an environment where people could feel like they were trusted at the Playboy mansion. Mr. Hefner did not stop with a just a magazine, he created an enterprise and true corporation. Like a real entrepreneur Mr. Hefner added on a hotel, trademark clothing accessories and clubs.

Though most of his projects were unsuccessful, Playboy still remained profitable due to the success of the magazine. Further analysis of Mr. Hefner as businessman is important to understand if an individual wants to critique his leadership abilities. Throughout the years many studies have taken place on leadership and Hugh Hefner proves most correct. Under a diagnostic of the three skill approach created by Katz in 1955 Mr. Hefner would be a great example of upper level management. As we know, human skills are required in all levels of management. This shows the important of communication in organization. If a person lacks good communication skills most likely they will not be an effective businessman. According to Katz’s theory, top level management requires a high level of conceptual thinking. Luckily Mr. Hefner was granted a 152 on his IQ test, so quick problem solving capabilities come naturally to him.

As far as technical skills, Mr. Hefner definitely possesses them but now he does not have to continue using them in his current position. Referring back to Katz’s theory, upper level management does not need technical skills because their job now involves overseeing the company to fit standard and tradition. However, one could see a flaw in that people will not respect someone who is above them but cannot complete every task at hand. Fortunately, that is not a problem for Hugh Hefner having work for a rival magazine which he eventually overcame in market share. Hugh Hefner according to the skills model possessed most if not all the individual attributes and competencies which manifested great leadership outcomes. There is no doubt that Mr. Hefner obtained both general and crystallized cognitive abilities through traits and education. It would appear that his motivation came from monetary value as a lot of great businessmen. Hence him quitting his job at Esquire only to create a better magazine and more revenue in his bank account.

His competencies were second nature due to his genius level IQ and out came one of the greatest bachelors and entrepreneurs of all time. In 1959, two brilliant young men Raven and French created the five bases of social power. The five bases is a great way to analyze Mr. Hefner’s impact socially within the company of Playboy. Hugh Hefner’s main sources of social power came from referent, expert, legitimate and reward. Hugh Hefner uses expert social power because he has a great understanding and knowledge of the magazine industry, which he has been working in for over 60 years now. He has legitimate power because he was once the CEO, but still owns the company. Mr. Hefner definitely tries to show off his reward power with to his employees with free lavish living at the Playboy mansion.

Further into his career Hugh Hefner suffered a stroke that could have ended fatally. Due to his stroke, Mr. Hefner passed down Playboy enterprises to Christie Hefner, his daughter which had been working for Playboy in the editorial staff. Like a real leader Mr. Hefner never stepped down and still serves on the executive board. His love and compassion for his company kept it going strong while he led by example. Mr. Hefner will be remembered as a lot of things but one of them is undeniable, he is a true leader. Hugh Hefner was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the American Society of Magazine Editors in 1998 and also received the Henry Johnson Fisher award, which is the highest award for a magazine publisher in America. Since retirement Hugh Hefner has spent most of his time doing philanthropy.


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