Leadership Attributes Of Mark Zuckerberg

Categories: Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerbreg was born on 14 May 1984 at White Plains, New York. He is best known as CEO of Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg is a technology innovator, CEO, Internet Tycoon and philanthropist who earned multi-billionaire status by his mid-20s. As the cofounder, chairman, and CEO of Facebook, Zuckerberg redefined the social media market and connected people in ways never thought possible. Zuckerberg recently topped a list of “Highest Rated CEOs” from online career community Glassdoor. The list was the result of employee reviews over the past 12 months.

Technology Sensation

Born into a well-educated family in New York, Zuckerberg developed an interest in computers at an early stage. He created his own messaging program at the age of 12, dubbed “Zucknet,” which his father used in his dental office. He would create games and programs under a private computer tutor, who later told reporters that it was hard to stay ahead of the technology prodigy. While still in high school, companies like AOL and Microsoft expressed interest in buying his software and hiring him, which he declined.

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Later enrolling at Harvard University, Zuckerberg developed a reputation as a strong programmer and software developer. He created programs like CourseMatch, which helped students choose their classes based on the selections of their peers, and Facemash, which compared pictures of two students and allowed users to vote on who was more attractive. While popular, none of these programs matched to the later success of Zuckerberg’s development of Facebook.

Approached by Divya Narendra, and Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, Zuckerberg began working on a project called The Harvard Connection, a sort of dating site for the Harvard elite.

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Zuckerberg later dropped out and began working on his own site with friends Dustin Moskovitz, Chris Hughes and Eduardo Saverin. This site, which started as thefacebook.com, allowed users to create their own profiles, upload photos, and network with users at specific universities. Run out of a dorm room at Harvard until June 2004, thefacebook.com thrived, and Zuckerberg dropped out to pursue it full time. By the end of 2004, Facebook boasted 1 million users. The site began to evolve. At first, it was only available to certain schools. Thanks to investments from venture capital firms, the site eventually opened up to other schools, then to the general public. Early on, Zuckerberg was turning down offers from Yahoo! and MTV Networks.

“The thing that we are trying to do at Facebook is just help people connect and communicate more efficiently,” he said. Instead of taking lucrative offers (Yahoo! reportedly offered Zuckerberg $1 billion), Zuckerberg focused on expanding the site to bring as much value to users as possible. But legal troubles from his early dealings with The Harvard Connection plagued him, as depicted in the Academy Award-nominated movie “The Social Network.” Zuckerberg later noted that much of the story was exaggerated for Hollywood.

“I just think people have a lot of fiction,” he said. “But the real story of Facebook is just that we’ve worked so hard for all this time. The real story is actually probably pretty boring, right? We just sat at our computers for six years and coded.” Despite some of the negative depictions in the movie and the lawsuit filed by the Winklevoss twins, Zuckerberg and Facebook continued to thrive. He was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year in 2010, and Forbes has ranked him at No. 36 on its 400 list, estimating his net worth at $13.3 billion as of March 2013.

Transformation from a Hacker to a CEO and then to a Leader

With Facebook’s stock price crashing and employee morale sinking, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stepped up and delivered a home run he would never have been able to hit even just a year ago. Zuckerberg has been under fire the last few months for Facebook’s plummeting stock price. A darling of Wall Street before its IPO, Facebook fell to half its IPO price in just a few months. As a result, a growing chorus of critics has called for new leadership at Facebook. Some have even called for Zuckerberg himself to resign. Zuckerberg answered his critics at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference. During a wide-ranging interview with CrunchFund’s Michael Arrington, Zuckerberg addressed everything from the company’s plummeting stock price to its plans for mobile. By all accounts, Zuckerberg did a spectacular job.

As a result, shares of Facebook have surged by 13 percent since then. It is a clear step in the right direction. If we compare his performance to his previous interviews, we can clearly see the change in his personality. He was stumbling during the interview and when he was asked few tough questions, he started sweating on stage. The new Mark Zuckerberg on stage at Disrupt didn’t look anything like the guy who squirmed at the D Conference just two years prior. No, this Zuckerberg was poised, confident, and articulate.

He spoke fast, but only because he was clearly excited by Facebook’s future. Zuckerberg was able to simultaneously rally the Facebook troops and Wall Street with just his words. This is something he would never have been able to do even just a year ago. He wasn’t born with Steve Jobs’ onstage charm — instead, he had to work up to the comfort level he exuded on stage at Disrupt. We can witness a new chapter in Zuckerberg’s maturation. He was once a hacker who had to become a CEO. Now he’s a CEO who’s transforming into an articulate leader, the type a public company with sky-high expectations needs.

Personal Traits

There is one important element which can help or makes a particular person to achieve success; it is the personality of the person itself. Personality basically is the kind of personal characteristics which influence the behavior as well as perception and attitudes. It is an inner psychological characteristic which cannot be copy such as emotion and taught. It can be build from the influence of heredity, or early childhood experiences. No doubt, personality of a person can be change due to the major life events and by the gradual maturing process. There are many personality classification methods; we had chosen the Big Five Model of Personality traits which are the most widely accepted way to classify personalities and to describe the personality which in Mark Zuckerberg. This model has been divided to five major dimensions i.e. Surgency, Agreeableness, Adjustment, Conscientiousness, and Openness to experience. Surgency personality dimension includes leadership and extraversion traits. Mark showed his strong surgency as he wants to be the person who is in charge instead of being the dominance of the others.

Mark did not really accept or commit with the twin Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss idea which they try to hire Mark to build a dating, a social site which they called Harvard Connection. As a high surgency person, Mark does not like to be the dominance of others so he creates the website Facebook instead of working for the Winklevoss. The strong surgency has lead Mark to the success that he is enjoying today; if he had chosen to work for Winklevoss, he might still be a small potato and not much people would know about him. Dimension of agreeableness includes traits related to getting along with people. Besides that, if a person has high agreeableness, that person might be more sociable and spent more times with his or her friends. According to Mark Zuckerberg’s friends, he is an introverted person as they said he is kind of a geek who feels little uncomfortable around other people.

Furthermore, they even speculated that that introverted personality of him had helped him deal with his creation of Facebook. The adjustment personality dimension includes traits related to emotional stability. Mark shows that he does not have a good adjustment personality; he created the facemash when he feels upset about a girl. Facemash is software where it uses to compare students to what kind of farm animals which seems like unethical to others. This software had helped him in the path of success as this software lends him some idea while creating Thefacebook.com. The high degree of conscientiousness of Mark has leaded him to the way of success, he is a hardworking, and always willing to put in extra time and effort to accomplish goal to achieve success.

His willingness to put in extra time to complete something, such as he uses eight hours to create the Facemash site. So, we can see that when he got an objective that need to be achieved, he will show his high conscientiousness to work on that aim in order to achieve success. The high openness to experience in Mark had made a big contribution to his success path, as he is a person who is willing to try and always willing to change. The Facebook which he had launched made a huge change in the connection between everyone in the world.

Besides that, he keeps on developing the Facebook which was named as Thefacebook previously, in order to help people to connect, find new friends and share photos. He states in his Facebook account that his personal interest is about openness, making things that help people connect and share what is important to them, revolutions, information flow and minimalism. Besides that, from the beginning of Course Match until Facebook, the personalities of Mark willing to try and change had helped him to come out with something which can really connect people easily – Facebook.

Situational Leadership style

Leadership is the process of the influencing made by the leader to the follower to change them to achieve the organizational goal. Leadership is an important element for a successful leader, as the leader needs to have enough potential and abilities to influence his/her followers to work according to the leader’s objective or goal. However, if a good leadership style is being implemented, it can more or less help the employees to create organizational citizenship. Furthermore, the effective behavior of the leader may also determine the future or fate of the organization obviously. Besides, for Mark Zuckerberg leadership is basically about creating focus. It is about ensuring we are focused on the right stuff and getting good people in to help build what we are trying to do. From the way he doing things, we can see that Mark is actually quite a democratic style leader. He does not really act like a dictator as he is open to take and listen to others opinion and suggestion.

When there was some crisis where people started to dislike Mark and said that Mark should be replaced, Reed – the recruiter of Facebook had talked to Mark. She told Zuckerberg what should he do in order to gain the favor and trust from the followers, then he did take her advice and started to get lessons on how to be an effective leader by seeing an executive coach. From the incident above, Zuckerberg shows his high degree of acceptance to his dominance or followers ideas. Besides that, Zuckerberg is one of the people-oriented types of leader. He had asked for help from Sean Parker, who is a very talented person who created Napster, but had a bad reputation of getting around with bar, alcohol, drugs and always surrounded by girls.

Zuckerberg did not concern about his bad reputation but he wanted the talent of Sean Parker who is also described as a business artist. In the end, Parker did help Zuckerberg with a lot of things in order to achieve the success of Facebook with the talent which Parker has. Zuckerberg is a good leader as we can see that he lead the Facebook to a greater and successful path. Without having the good behavior and guidance in him, Facebook would not able to be success and his followers love to work with him.

Traits of Effective Leader, as seen in Mark Zuckerberg


Dominance is the one of the most effective and major trait of leadership. Successful leaders want to take the charge and the responsibilities. Dominance trait effects all the other traits related to effective leaders. Mark has shown a very strong dominance trait as he has always shown this thing that he wants to take the charge and have a dominant personality. As mentioned above, if he had just followed what he was asked to do, he might not even have invented Facebook.

High Energy

To be a good leader, to go places, you must be willing to go further than others have and do things others won’t. He worked his ass off, did things he was uncomfortable with (like travelling across continents to speak to audiences about his vision) and did what had to be done to build his company.


No one can doubt about the intelligence of Mark Zuckerberg. Starting from very young age, inventing his own software programs, and then getting into an IVY League university and last but not the least, invention of Facebook, this all shows the very strong trait of Intelligence in Mark Zuckerberg.


Mark Zuckerberg has shown flexibility in his character. He has always been open to change and has never been afraid of taking new steps and doing something new. Perhaps no Internet businessman has spit in the face of this attitude more than Mark Zuckerberg. Despite Facebook’s status as a social networking giant, Zuckerberg and Co. have never shied away from changing the user interface (sometimes in the face of protests) or shaking things up in the effort to break new ground. Though not all of his changes have been successful, a surprising majority of them have stood the test of time and boosted Facebook’s following.


Mark Zuckerberg faces criticism for his unconventional leadership of Facebook as a business. Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission that was, to make the world more open and connected. Zuckerberg has shown strong integrity in his leadership by remaining consistent with his mission to make the world more opened and connected. He went incredibly far to make absolutely sure that this mission would not be compromised by maintaining a majority stake of the voting shares of Facebook.

Locus of Control

Recently, Facebook has had a lawsuit against them with the Beacon advertising system. After the court ruling, Zuckerberg made a public apology for the system and took full responsibility for the mistake. This shows that Mark Zuckerberg has an internal locus of control. Instead of blaming some other force, he took control of the situation.

Self Confidence

Even though Mark Zuckerberg seems to be quiet and humble, he’s also extremely self-confident. He has always had strong faith in himself and in his vision. He didn’t let naysayers along the way deter him or bring him down. He is able to persevere through criticism and any obstacles or setbacks because he continues to believe in himself no matter what anyone else says about Facebook.

Sensitivity to Others

Initially, it looked like Mark isn’t that much sensitive to others, as he was accused of using the idea of his class fellows and then cutting them out of the plan. But, since in 2012 he was named as the Best CEO and from the feedback that was given by his employers, it became apparent that he has changed himself and had become sensitive to others and their feelings.


Mark shows that he does not have a good adjustment personality; he created the facemash when he feels upset about a girl. But as this has been mentioned earlier before, Mark has gone through a lot since he has became the CEO of the Facebook and has brought a lot of positive changes in himself, and stability is one of them as well. He has shown very strong emotional stability at various places and incidents. He has taken criticism openly and has faced all the difficulties while staying strong.

Leadership Grid Theory

Leadership grid theory explains leadership behavior on the basis of two dimensions which are concern for production and concern for people. Mark Zuckerberg is one of people oriented types of leader and He is also more concerned for quality and good work by employees. Due to these reasons he falls in The Team Leader style which is 9.9 in Leadership Grid Theory.

Leadership Continuum Theory

If we have a look at the Leadership Continuum Theory then we can see that Mark falls somewhere around 6th defined trait. He has received a 99% approval rate from his employees and they have said that they love working at Facebook reason being that what they say and think is considered and it matters to mark. Every decision taken at Facebook is a group decision.


Zuckerberg’s leadership style has been in question and will be in question as Facebook prepares to switch its funding to IPO. I believe Zuckerberg is a perfect example of path-goal theory. Path-goal leaders as we know need to adapt their style to one that allows their subordinates to achieve a specific goal.

This can be done by being directive, supportive, participated, and achievement oriented. Zuckerberg fits all criteria. Throughout the growth and development of Facebook he has changed his style to continuously achieve their overall goal. To start he began the company as a directive leader; providing guidance and instilling the psychological structure that the company needed in order to have constant expansion. It is hard to convey an idea to another, especially if it is one that could change the way society operated.

Once Zuckerberg set the foundation of psychological structure, he could sit back and play a more supportive role. Being supportative allows for the vision of Facebook to take hold. Currently though Zuckerberg is the best demonstrator of a participative style. Facebook is now self sustaining and doesn’t need a hard-nosed leader under its ranks. The best way we can see this style of leadership in action is through his own Facebook page. He is currently promoting the need for driven individuals such as himself to work for the company.

The Myers-Briggs Test

Zuckerberg is known to be incredibly confident and decisive in his decisions. When he strives for something he reaches it and stands strong on the decision. This was shown to the many Facebookers years ago with timeline. When timeline was introduced, many users did not like it, but Zuckerberg stuck to his guns and kept it. Along with his decisiveness, Zuckerberg tends to be ‘robot like’ and socially awkward. People that have interacted with him say this because when having a conversation, Zuckerberg is straight to the point. As Time Magazine states, “He approaches conversation as a way of exchanging data as rapidly and efficiently as possible, rather than as a recreational activity undertaken for its own sake. He is formidably quick and talks rapidly and precisely, and if he has no data to transmit, he abruptly falls silent.” This shows him as being very analytical and specific. Zuckerberg is known to be an introvert as well.

He doesn’t openly talk about himself and is well reserved. Even when in an interview, he answers the question that’s asked, but gives no additional or side information. From the above examples and descriptions, when taking the Myers-Briggs test, Mark Zuckerberg would be an ISTJ (Introvert, Sensing, Thinking, and Judging). ISTJ’s are quiet, serious, practical, logical, orderly, and loyal. Additionally, Mark Zuckerberg tends to have high self-efficacy. Zuckerberg has confidence in his abilities. People with self-efficacy tend to overcome obstacles and work toward a specific goal. Zuckerberg has done this with the success of Facebook. Recently, Facebook has had a lawsuit against them with the Beacon advertising system. After the court ruling, Zuckerberg made a public apology for the system and took full responsibility for the mistake. This shows that Mark Zuckerberg has an internal locus of control. Instead of blaming some other force, he took control of the situation.

Theory Y

Working for Facebook is not your typical job. The word “Hack” is written on every wall in the building. Zuckerberg’s own personal innovation encourages employees to produce new codes to wow users and attract new one. He encourages employees to constantly innovate and think of outside the box. They attempt to eliminate failure out of the equation and the programmer’s mind. The environment is geared to help employees figure out what exactly they would do without the fear of failure. Fail harder: they are encouraged to fail in a triumphant blaze of glory. For Facebook, “the riskest risk is taking no risks”(Careers at Facebook).

Without complete focus and effort, the employee might never know if the project was possible. Trying new things is always encouraged. This is the kind of effort Mark Zuckerberg put into Facebook to make a huge success. He encourages his employees to put everything they have into a project. This type of support shown to employees can satisfy McGregor’s Theory Y. Facebook’s full support and belief in the abilities of their employees motivates them to give their full effort in a project.

Maslow’s Self Actualization

Facebook’s view on recruiting is to “discovering top talent and serving our employees seriously”(Careers at Facebook). Facebook only hires the smartest and passionate people who are ready to hard and quickly. This could give Facebook employees pride for being the Best of the best.

“We expect everyone at Facebook to focus every day on how to build real value for the world in everything they do”(Careers at Facebook). This type of emphasis on building social value and create social change through their job can help employees achieve Maslowe’s self actualization. This personal growth and higher order achievement fulfillment can inspire employees to work harder and innovate. This type of social value can suggest a need for power. Employees want their work to influence others and create a change in the world.


In the early days of Facebook, Zuckerberg was known for his exuberance and sense of urgency. He would initiate a companywide lock down to launch a new campus. These “Hackathon” turned into a party including a keg and DJ in reward of the work. Zuckerberg maintains the mantra that is “done is better than perfect”(Careers at Facebook). They launched features before they are done. Facebook attempts to stay on the edge of technology, and is willing to risk flaws and imperfects to stay on the cutting edge. Facebook is “less afraid of making mistakes than we are of losing opportunities”(Careers at Facebook). This shows McCleland’s need for achievement. Facebook strives to be on the cutting edge of technology and be the first to develop new features for the site. With each new update to Facebook, they have achieved a new goal while continuing to improve on the site. Facebook does not let anything get in the way of a deadline to stay on top.


Lesson 1: Be passionate about what you do

If there is any way to create something that hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people will eventually use on a daily basis, you better be sure to create something that you would have passion and dedication in creating. The aforementioned isn’t exactly a revelation to anyone, but if you are not genuinely interested in what you are creating, why would anyone else be? They wouldn’t. It’s a serious problem for many entrepreneurs of both young and old. Mark Zuckerberg, however, is one of the most prominent examples in recent history of someone who has the passion. Not only did he care about his project, but he also turned down billions of dollars in order to let his company thrive.

Lesson 2: Constant evaluation

There are generally two types of people in business: those who prefer to play it by gut instinct and those who analyze every little measurable detail. Both have their pros and cons; having a mix of both couldn’t hurt. Generally a person gravitates towards one or the other. Mark Zuckerberg is the analyzer.

Zuckerberg always insisted that his employees create powerful analytics dashboards. Their purpose was simple: allow him and fellow employees to gauge the interest in newly released features to coordinate their global domination. While other companies were still figuring out which advertisements could be placed at which spot and generate the most return, Facebook focused on optimizing the performance of the user experience. He wanted to know which features worked and which did not.

Lesson 3: Be willing to experiment

In Facebook’s infancy, its founder preferred to push out enhancements and never look back. This is, admittedly, easy to do when you have a few thousand users; they expect things to change at a rapid clip. But Facebook was different. People relied on Facebook in more ways than most other websites — it was a service that connected people to each other. At this point, failure is unacceptable. Still, Zuckerberg preferred the gung ho method of development. He would regularly introduce new features — adding the “Wall,” introducing chat functionality, allowing third-party development, and changing the site’s layout.

Lesson 4: Be aware of opportunity

Before Facebook, there was CourseMatch, an application that allowed students at Harvard University to compare their course selections for that semester. With this, Zuckerberg indulged students’ desires to know which classes their friends were joining. He exploited an opportunity. Facemash was a similar expereince. It was Harvard’s Hot or Not for students. These students were interested in knowing where they stood socially — in some ways, we all do. And Zuckerberg, once again, saw an opportunity to exploit this as well. It isn’t magic.

But it does require looking at things in a different way — to see things for what they could be, as opposed to only what they have been or currently are. Zuckerberg’s ability to notice these opportunities and execute on them gave him the edge in creating and maintaining products that people believed in. Opportunity exists everywhere — especially with the Internet, where the ability to reach millions is easier than ever. Perhaps there is so much opportunity out there that, perhaps, we have become ignorant to spot the most obvious of opportunities. But being able to spot opportunity is an invaluable skill.

Lesson 5: Make something useful

Facebook isn’t simply another interesting website to visit every once in a while. It is a tool that millions of people use to connect to each other. People use it for sharing experiences and creating new ones. Most importantly, Facebook does something that no other website has been able to do as efficiently, effectively, and with such impressive scale: it creates a virtual environment to interact with your real friends. The 600 million plus members tells us how famous Facebook is. Yet it is this usefulness that makes the company a success. It is a recurring theme that all successful companies build upon. It is also something that many startups don’t seem to comprehend. Explaining what makes a product or service useful is simple: it is something that people are using repeatedly and on a regular basis. So the lesson to learn is, make something which is a everyday use thing, just like Zuckerberg did.


In order to conclude, we can say that Mark has emerged and evolved as an Employee Centered CEO, with a democratic style. He has come a long way to reach this stage with bringing a lot of changes in him. When it comes to personality traits, without any doubt his strongest trait would be his openness to experience and the willingness to always try something new which in result, has kept Facebook on the top among all other social media sites.

Cite this page

Leadership Attributes Of Mark Zuckerberg. (2016, Sep 20). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/leadership-attributes-of-mark-zuckerberg-essay

Leadership Attributes Of Mark Zuckerberg

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