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Failure of Ambitious Leadership


Everyone wants to succeed in life. Somebody has the fortune to be in such conditions when almost everything helps him or her to make dreams come true. Most of people consider that only work can give some results, and they go to create their path with own hands overcoming various obstacles. It is well-known that there is no genius or highly talented people; it is 1% of talent and 99% of hard work that make a success. Anyhow, there are some factors that influence the whole work group’s performance. Someone can lead people to his or her goal as it was team’s one, and others are not able to do it well. Therefore, the essential idea of this paper is to discuss what actually makes a businessman achieve a top of the career and analyze how one of the indispensable parts of the working process such as a leadership strategy actualizes in success achievement or failure.

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Leadership Styles

At first, every company should have leaders whose task is to direct professionals in their right places for doing the job in the best way. The whole business activity of the team depends on the influence of the leader, i.e. how he or she treats them, motivates, encourages, and shares work and opinion. A guiding person should attentively learn all the teammates to provide convenient circumstances and means for achieving the best results. Once Drucker said, “Leadership is doing the right things”. It means that the leader must begin from his or her strategy regarding the peculiarities of every person in the team, conditions where they work, etc.

Surely, adherence to the only one chosen way of leading is a thankless job because everything depends on a situation. There are six leadership styles offered by Doleman, who explains leader’s behavior models in details. Actually, the pacesetting leadership style is based on the “do as I do” statement. It brings positive results when teammates are already professionals and would not feel overwhelmed with fulfilling tasks with a high speed. The authoritative approach is more controversial and built on setting the goal and giving a “common vision”. However, the leader leaves the means and methods of working up to the teammates. The positive effect is when the group needs a fresh point of view on the problem and more clear requirements but it is not applicable to the case when the team consists of high-skilled personnel who know oats very well. Sometimes, there is the time when teammates need to go to the next improved level of relationship within the group. Then, none but the affiliative leader is necessary to create friendly conditions for cooperation between the members. This style is successful in this case but could hardly help to build a proper scheme for effective work. When all the teammates are in friendly terms with each other and want to develop in their performance, the coaching leadership style is the most efficient. This strategy allows the leader offering various ways for development but would not work if most group members are passive and need to be directed in the questions related to their activity.In any case, the style of implementation effective works even in the non-self-motivated team exists. The coercive leadership strategy can be described by the words “do what I tell you”. However, the disadvantage of this style lies in a large pressure on the leader as he or she cannot always make decisions on his or her own. On the contrary, the democratic leader builds the work process on participation. It is good when everyone has an opportunity to share fresh ideas or discuss positive and negative sides of some plan. In cases of emergency, group mates could feel the absence of the firm hand and clear directions what to do then. Making people overwhelmed means to mislead; thus, the role of the leader is worthless.

Generally speaking, the most difficult in the leadership is to strike a balance while leading to the set goal. Only regarding a changing nature of situations can help to choose the appropriate way to guide the team because each case requires a certain leadership style or the combination of them.

Background of Jeff Zucker, HisSuccesses and Failures

Now, Jeff Zucker, known as the President of CNN, reveals himself as one of the most successful leaders in the present days. It is wondering, how much time he has spent to achieve his goals. Since school times, he always has been at leading positions. He began his great path when “short kid from Miami” won the high school class presidency with the slogan “The little man with big ideas”.

The very start of his career begins when he graduates from Harvard University in 1986. Then Zucker works as a researcher for 1988 Olympics in Seoul in NBC. Then, he produces Today show and becomes an executive producer in 1992. Zucker runs this show with the 16-year long success. After a while, he becomes a President of different NBC branches step by step. Zucker had great plans to broaden NBCU Empire including creation of cable networks, a movie studio and amusement parks. As Weisman said, he began his activity following four main priorities such as making a high-quality content, international business growing, managing costs, and being open to changes regarding the development of digital revolution.

Anyhow, it has been said that Zucker ruined NBC due to wrong running and making ineffectual decisions. These words said by Prax in his article have evidence because it is a fact that during Zucker’s tenure, the NBC network dropped from the first to the fourth rate place. The chief was blamed for disappearing profits “which peaked at $650 million in 2003” and in 6% falling of overall NBC profits. After all, Prax expresses his firmness in the statement that Zucker will spoil everything at CNN as he has done before in NBC; as it appeared later, his predictions somehow became true.

Then, in 2010, Zucker was “removed from his perch” and should prove his ability to give the most trustworthy news. He realized his mistakes and having managed to become CNN head, he began to show more optimistic results than earlier. Zucker’s tenure years can be considered as the most successful in running the great news network regarding the first period of heading. The boss designed a three-stepped plan for improving the channel, including investing 20$ million into building a new team, providing more original series and documentaries, and encouraging the anchors to sticking with their own stories in the news instead of “zigzagging from one alerting news to another”. Due to his mastering, CNN has taken the place of the second most-watched channels thanks to Fox News. Also, during Zucker’s running, CNN has significantly transfigured in six months. For instance, various anchors and co-workers began to cooperate with this channel; some of them even had left the previous jobs, as Chris Cuomo from ABC News says nothing of hiring print reporters to make them appear “on air”. Also, one of the essential things is a partnership with BuzzFeed for launching a YouTube channel with access to the largest CNN’s video archive for creating the most exciting news videos. Then, there was the development of “Girl Rising”, the global campaign for educating girls, etc.

At all events, mostly authoritative style (peculiar for CNN chief) sometimes can bear bad fruits. Not long ago, in 2014, CNN under Zucker’s running was admitted failing. The boss can seem to feel his power and ability to change the content in the way he likes, so it caused some mistakes that could be fatal. One of the most serious flaws was encouraging the anchors to express their own attitude; thus, the channel is turning into a left-wing supporter. The second problem stems from simplifying CNN. Firstly, it has been planned as the channel with the trustworthy news but more viewers require more entertainment. Therefore, it does not give an in-depth analysis of global world problems, for example, gay marriage, but offers unuseful programs demanding no thinking. The third mistake grows from all his running that reflects the declining rate. More than that, the chief seems to pay no attention to it and continues doing what he considers right. Such game can end very bad for Zucker in spite of his attempts to improve the channel. Lacking balance and providing the content he considers necessary is the mistake that should have been avoided as a minimum.

Jeff Zucker as a Leader

After all, despite all the disadvantages, Zucker is an experienced professional. The leadership strategy he has chosen looks appropriate regarding the successive time. He was not born genius but seemed to realize very clearly what he should do. It is the man, who has an ability to impact his teammates and possesses all necessary leadership attributes for fulfilling the work at the highest level. As Setoodeh writes, CNN chief is a master of “a zealous professor of a political theory” leadership style. This person did lead his team with distinctive orders and also made producers accent on the proper choice of stories. There is a very indication that Zucker is an adherent of the authoritative style. Anyhow, no one could agree that this man made his people feel worthless. Jeff Zucker is the leader who does not force the group to everything in a routine way; on the contrary, he works and thinks with others looking at “11 TVs” and “reading six daily papers in print” to keep track of his competitors. As one of CNN employee told, Zucker is “always walking through the newsroom and giving direct feedback”. Also, his teammates consider the chief’s straightforwardness as “positive reinforcement” in pointing the anchors what he likes.

Many employees do not claim about their leader at all. The boss has made enough to make the staff members talk about pre- and post-Zucker epoch. They characterize pre-Zucker epoch as passive and with low morale. However, new approach to leadership has given a new breath to the activity of the whole team and invigorated everybody. As anchor Erin Burnett says, Zucker “has changed the attitude at CNN”, he has made the employees believe in themselves and encouraged to think everyone that the team could win. Setoodeh briefly reminded how the team began their workday with wishing to one of the colleagues happy birthday and praising everybody for “keeping cameras on the stage”. The significant feature of Zucker’s leadership behavior is attention to his every teammate. It helps create a productive group because everyone feels being necessary for the best results. Also, the chief represents the example of his enthusiastic working and, surely, the team will take it. Even Jake Tapper from ABC said that he knew various leaders such as Ted Koppel and Peter Jennings but not ever seen “a boss so focused and devoted to the news”. Well, such activity based on turning around the network has attracted more staff developing their professionalism and increasing the resources. Such behavior style tends to broaden the limits of the influence and leads to only fulfilling the orders and directions.


Finally, success means to choose right ways of guiding people to the goal and motivating them to achieve as much as possible. After all, it is better to change and combine different leadership styles because everything depends on a situation. One of the significant tasks of the leader is to work around and to be able to see the moment when some approach has to be changed to prevent the business becomes a deadlock. The example of Jeff Zucker’s activity shows all the advantages and disadvantages of authoritative leadership style revealing two sides of the same coin. Ability to organize the work supposedly giving freedom to the team anchors (as CNN running mistakes point on some dictation in work) cannot always bring the best results. Analysis of Zucker’s working behavior has shown his lack of flexibility and sometimes attempts to adjust a failing situation.

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