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Leader Analysis of Jack Ma

Leading and Managing Change

As we all know, Jack Ma, a Chinese entrepreneur, founded the solely internet-based company – Alibaba. Through the company was initially small when he started. Both Alibaba and Jack Ma, they all came from humble beginnings. But now they all become one of the richest and most influential people and company. Jack Ma believes that if there is a change coming, it is best to prepare early. He always believes this philosophy from he starts Alibaba and avoid some competitions from other companies when he extends his new e-commerce business to the world at first stage. He said: “My belief is that you have to repair the roof while it is still sunny.” Back to that moment, eBay was one of the early entrants into the e-commerce market. Its model is a C-to-C base that people can make deal by themselves with a certain service fee to the platform. But Alibaba was focused on helping small business in China to open their website and to extend their business online. Jack Ma realized that potential threat from eBay and assembled a small group of core employees as a task force to solve this situation. This move not only proves his capability of uncovering change of business but also his brave to change himself and his management style to adapt to new business. Finally, this task force established an online marketplace that would compete with eBay and even offer more base on Chinese people’s local market needs. That is the famous Taobao that handles the biggest online shopping transition in China, maybe in the world. Alibaba was rejected by around 30 venture capitalists before it found SoftBank. Jack Ma had to lay-off a lot of staff to keep his company survive. Indeed, being a leader is vastly different from being an entrepreneur, you must make the tough decisions and sometimes cutting back so that your company will survive. Thinking about what the future will entail is the most important thing for doing a business. Leading and managing change according to that vision is the key to make your business success.

Problem Management and Decision Making

Jack Ma said: “I don’t think Alibaba is an empire. I always believe we shouldn’t build an empire, instead, we should build an ecosystem. Every empire will be toppled someday, but an ecosystem is sustainable.” In recent years, Jack Ma always has a vision to create an ecosystem that can sustain with an appropriate environment. He believes that it’s important the invest more to technique, management, idea, operation and personnel system to make them international to live with other giants like Google, Facebook and Amazon. Because of some Chinese policies, Alibaba can’t get government support in some scenario, but he keeps doing his innovation to go beyond the current market and to make more improvements to the global market. He believes that a valuable organization exist on the purpose and benefit which come from outside instead of inside. He cares for the growth of the whole organization far more than the growth of himself. This can be proved that his personnel wealth may not be able to compete with the leaders of his competitors, but his organization has created a lot of millennials more than other competitors. His style of management constantly changed and evolved due to the changes of markets and business. When he needs to decide or to solve a problem, he is willing to recognize and change his management style from conducive to persuasive, maybe to autocratic to adapt to the situation. He also knows when to stop and take a step down, as we all know, he stepped down as CEO of Alibaba in May 2013 but kept his sprit and vision with fresh blood to go on.

Consensus Building and Negotiation

Jack Ma thinks that an entrepreneur should have to get used to being challenged and being said “no” by the other people, especially by the investors and the customers. It tells that rejection should be treated as an opportunity, because if everybody agrees with your thoughts, it actually means no opportunity. Only if few people believe you and you believe yourself, then you have the motivation to prove it, that is your opportunity. When he started Alibaba, he talked to other 18 founders to encourage them and said: “If we can be successful, 80% of people in the world can be successful, because we don’t have money, we don’t have technology, we have almost nothing. The only thing is that we believe in future and we started to do little by little.”  Jack Ma thinks the leader should focus on convincing is your own business and your customers. You should be ready and getting used to being criticized. When people say “Yes” to you, you should really appreciate it and prove yourself with the best service to them. This is the consensus Jack Ma built for his employee and for everyone using his own story. He is not an expert in internet or other high technique area, but he uses his vision to utilize his influence to persuade his employees who have more skillsets than him to help to contribute to the organizational goals. Jack Ma also likes to talk of a consensus-building approach: teamwork is encouraged, rewords will be granted to the start employee, but criticism and debate are also welcomed. According to him, employees is in his second place, first is customers and third is investors, employee can create value and their enthusiasm will become the reason of happy investors and customers. There is a unique work culture he built in Alibaba; he was always being visible in every workplace with his employees. As a leader, your team’s health should be on your top 3 list. You need to think about them and try to put yourself in their shoes to understand their negativity. If you employees are happy, they’ll be more motivated and productive at work with more valuable contributions to the organization.

Application of analysis to Leadership roles and responsibilities

There are a lot of aspects I would like to apply in my organization from analysis to Jack Ma’s leadership roles and responsibilities analysis.

  1. Giving up is the greatest failure.

There is no straight line to success. You are going to listen hundreds of “no” from other people and to hit hundreds of bumps in the road. AS a leader, you must see the challenges as opportunities and use them to prove yourself. In my company, we are facing a lot of requests from clients, the majority of them seems impossible to be finished by the time they give. Sometimes we just start to compline without any actions or even think about the solutions. We may failure because of short delivery, but it’s never the end until we start to quit and cry.

  1. Working with a smile.

As a leader, you must make our employee happy. Establishing a stress-free workplace is necessary and giving employees the freedom to be themselves. You need to build an awesome work culture and help your employees to make some achievements, even the small ones.

  1. More foresight.

As a leader, you should be a visionary and have more foresight than your employees. Being a far-sighted leader will help your team and business when struggles come out, big decision-making time, or even the dead-end of your business, you probably will see possibilities because of your pre-preparation.


  1. Lussier, P. N., &Achua, C. F. (n.d.). Leadership Theory, Application and Skill Development (6th ed.). South-Western CENGAGE Learning.
  2. Chanttel Tham Jo Ee & Dr. Rashad Yazdanifard, The Review of Alibaba’s Operation Management Details that have Navigated them to Success
  3. How Jack Ma’s foresight helped Alibaba become an e-commerce giant


  1. Jack Ma explains how entrepreneurs should deal with rejection


  1. When it comes to management lessons, Jack Ma has a lot of wise words to share



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