Essay on Leaders: Essential Skills for Navigating Change, Problem-Solving, and Decision-Making

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1484 Words
Date:  2023-01-26

Leaders are not always those who instruct while others follow or those who never make unwise decisions or those who never go into poor deals or even those with successful business empires. Leadership depends on certain aspects that help run an organization, including an ability to lead and Manage Change, Manage Problems and Make Decisions, and Build Consensus and Negotiate. Change, according to Kotter (2012), is no longer a luxury but a necessity for any company to ride the waves of an ever-changing technological and global market place. This has made it crucial for any given organization to ensure that its leaders and change agents approach this issue with emotional intelligence. Jack Ma demonstrates these qualities with vitality and vigor. He created and molded a market from scratch by utilizing technology in a by then naive Chinese market and as a result, built China Pages and Alibaba with the latter being his greatest success.

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Unlike the other 70% failure organizations Kotter (2012) mentions, Jack ma continues to raise Alibaba to high levels by always staying fluid with his market, consumers, and technology. Alibaba under Ma's directive always improves on its services to better serve the medium size businesses. Jack Ma embraces technology and uses its changes to mold and shape Alibaba to its greatest limits possible. He thrives in these changes by making changes and going through with them rather than avoid them. Jack ma has also ensured to assemble a team of like-minded staff, especially change agents, who work hand in hand with him to ensure Alibaba changes as required and not as wanted. As Kotter (2012) says, "no one individual, even a monarch-like CEO, is ever able to develop the right vision, communicate it to a large number of people, eliminate all key obstacles, generate short term wins, lead and manage dozens of change projects and anchor new approaches deep in the organizational culture." And Jack Ma surely is not a monarch like CEO. His Change agents work with other staff to determine where change is needed and which change, thus coming up with a work plan approved by the CEO and implemented in a manner to ensure its success. This is done in teams to eliminate redundancy. The teams are selected strategically as functional, cross-functional, self-managed, or even virtual (Jensen, 2019). He has also created an online bulletin board that allows every staff to share thought and ideas openly with others. Jack Ma encourages conflict and heated discussions in these groups to ensure innovation, communication, and team development. Any resistance to these changes is not ignored but addressed accordingly, especially if it is functional. Ma is always calm and attentive during such issues predicting moods and managing the situation accordingly exercising Emotional Intelligence as described by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves (Jensen & Bojeun, 2017).

Jack Ma also proved himself to be an excellent decision maker even while under pressure or crisis. Ma identified shipping and business to the business transaction as a problem and in response, formulated a plan to solve it, which in return built him a multi-billion dollar organization. Many organizations and individuals have come to regret making decisions without weighing all the pros and cons. Jack Ma tends to, at times, use the Incremental model of decision making in his ventures business wise. He makes slight changes in his organization tasting out the market in a slow pace but with a precise end goal in mind to see if his solutions to a problem can be accepted by the market and organization. This model, although flowed, allows him to revoke the changes if they are rebuffed. Ma also follows the seven-step process (rational model) in identifying the issues in the organization. He defines and identifies the problem, analyzes the problem, identifies possible solutions, selects the best solution, evaluates solutions, develops actions plan, and finally implements the solution.

A good example is when he identified security issues with Alibaba certification. He knew his ecosystem would not thrive without ethics and trust. He came up with the introduction of TrustPass. This ensured the legitimacy of a supplier or individual and in the process rooting out the problem of unethical and dishonest transactions. He even came up with Alipay to dead with the electronic pay problem, Taobao to facilitate the customer to customer trading platform, just to name a few (Jensen, 2019). All this cannot have been achieved by not following the complex but efficient rational method, and as a result, the perfect solutions were found for major problems in his organization. Jack Ma also tries to root out the Iceberg of ignorance problem. This means problems known to the executive, though often dire, are always hidden from the lower staff.

And on the other hand, these staffs have their issue even though meager; the problems are often many. This, when drawn on a graph, will appear as an iceberg, thus the name (Yoshida, 2012). He tries as much as possible to interact with his staff, learn their ways, understand their strife, and if reasonable offer the appropriate solutions. This, in return, increases productivity and trust within the workplace. Jack Ma sees a problem and rather than shy away, he embraces it and turns it into a golden opportunity. As Dan Jensen says, "Effective leaders consider a problem as an opportunity rather than a threat - an opportunity to learn, grow, and improve from both an individual and organizational perspective. If you, as a leader, do not perceive any problems (opportunities) in your organization, you are out of touch". Jack Ma is not out of touch.

Finally, Ma is a very good negotiator and consensus builder. His ability to effectively communicate and foster in others a sense of openness aids him here immensely. Ma is a flexible leader in the sense that he can be authoritative, democratic, affiliated, or coaching if need be (Jensen & Bojeun, 2017). Jack Ma successfully negotiated a deal with the Chinese Administration of Industry and Commerce in just one sitting. He did this by agreeing to add more finance in counterfeited goods curbing and also to step up anti-piracy spending. He conceded a little by adding a little more fund to certain parts of his organization, making the government pacified, and in return, TaoBao was not shut down. In response, Alibaba shares rose 1.2% in New York alone, and the Chinese governments were content with Alibaba's efforts as they solved the problem ("Jack Ma says Alibaba resolved conflict with China regulator," 2019).

This success fostered a good relationship with the authorities making Alibaba business run smoothly until his retirement. His negotiation skills paid off in abundance. In 2005, Jack Ma, a fledgling business owner, managed to negotiate a one billion dollar deal with Yahoo's co-founder Jerry Yang making yahoo forty percent stakeholders in Alibaba. Ma says it was tough negotiations which at a time almost ended but after going back and forth they came to a deal. This was good for Ma since it guaranteed him a platform to market and network Alibaba through yahoo. That billion dollar stake is now worth twenty billion ("Jack Ma and Jerry Yang talk about Yahoo's big Alibaba investment," 2019).

Yahoo ended up getting traffic through Alibaba customers, and Alibaba got a platform to network its services. In return, both organizations made billions. In these two situations as observed, Jack Ma made sure he delivered on the issues he promised during the negotiations; therefore, fostering trust with yahoo allowing future deals. This shows how Ma values good negotiations and delivering what he promises in abundance. President Trump of the United States once in 2014 quoted Ma as a good negotiator who drives a hard but honest bargain.


In conclusion, from the above-made analysis of this great leader, it is wise to concur that the leadership of an organization requires the above-mentioned attributes. As a leader in my organization, I have learned to lead changes and manage the process. The change I have discovered must not be avoided but embraced and even sought after. My organization will greatly benefit from the market evolution and technological advances with me spearheading the changes required. Negotiations with other parties will also take a different route to ensure both parties leave the tables smiling, therefore, paving the way for future deals. Finally, problems will be sorted precisely and efficiently the moment they are identified, and the best solutions are come with. All this will be done as a team with every voice listened to and not ignored.


Jack Ma and Jerry Yang talk about Yahoo's big Alibaba investment. (2019). Retrieved from

Jack Ma says Alibaba resolved conflict with China regulator. (2019). Retrieved from

Jensen, D. (2019). Problem Management and Decision Making [PowerPoint Slides]

Jensen, D., & Bojeun, M. (2017). The Value of Emotional Intelligence in Transformational Change.

Kotter, J. P. (2012). Leading change. Harvard business press.

Yoshida, S. (2012). Quality Improvement and TQC AT Calsonic in Japan and Overseas [PowerPoint Slides]

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Essay on Leaders: Essential Skills for Navigating Change, Problem-Solving, and Decision-Making. (2023, Jan 26). Retrieved from

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