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Travis Kalanick

Travis Kalanick

Travis Kalanick

Does Travis Kalanick meet the definition of a charismatic leader based on what you’ve read?

A charismatic leadership approach depends on the persuasiveness and charm of the leader. Notably, charismatic leaders are motivated by their convictions and commitment to their set goals and objectives. Also, charismatic leaders are in some instances known as transformational leaders since they share some similarities. The significant difference between charismatic leaders and transformational leaders is the audience and focus. In contrast, charismatic leaders focus on improving their status quo; transformational leaders, on the other hand, concentrate on transforming organizations into the vision of the leader.

What makes charismatic leaders outstanding is their exceptional communication skills; they are verbally eloquent and capable of communicating with subordinates on an emotional and deep level (“What is charismatic leadership,” 2014). Charismatic leaders are normally recognized when there is a crisis because they have exceptional expertise and devotion to their fields. Further, they are individuals with a clear vision of where they are heading and can engage a large audience. Unlike other leadership approaches, the charismatic leadership style largely relies on the actions and personality of the leader rather than the structure and the process.

Subsequently, charismatic leaders look collected, calm, and confident. Also, they are thought to have particular convictions regarding their beliefs. These kinds of leaders are discreet and capable of influencing the public through their powers. Charismatic leaders motivate people and make them feel like they can get favors, thus engaging in challenging deals (Anderson & Huffman, 2017). Charisma is a desirable trait in leadership, but it can pose various problems; for instance, charm is considered powerful, as a magical power that removes every barrier and restores impossible and complicated situations. Therefore, a charismatic leader knows that this attribute is highly influential, and if not well-tamed, it can result in serious problems.

From the above definition of a charismatic leader and charismatic leadership style, it is clear that Kalanick is a charismatic leader. Kalanick persuaded and convinced a large group of people to accept to follow him and believe in his dream business. However, because of this stern leadership principle, the company disintegrated. Yet, people still appreciate charismatic leaders because they demand respect, approval, and recognition from the people they lead. Also, the subordinates take after these leaders since they perceive the charismatic leaders as heroes.

Does Travis Kalanick meet the definition of a transactional leader based on what you’ve read?

A transactional leader is a person who values structure and order. Such leaders are likely to control military operations, lead large corporations, and manage international projects requiring rules and regulations to accomplish the set objectives within the stipulated time frame or move supplies or people in an organized manner. Transactional leaders are not ideal for places that value innovative and creative ideas.

In most cases, transactional leadership is compared to transformational leadership. Transactional leadership relies on self-motivated individuals who perform well under a directed and structured environment (“What is transactional leadership,” 2014). On the other hand, transformational leadership aims to inspire and motivate workers, which is more of an influence than directing others. The main focus of transactional leadership is the outcomes, conforming to the current organizational structure and measuring success according to the present system of penalties and rewards. Transactional leaders hold a formal position and authority in an organization and are tasked with maintaining routine by handling individual performance and promoting group performance.

Transactional leaders establish the criteria for their subordinates in relation to prior defined requirements. Reviewing the performance is the typical way of judging employee performance. Such leaders work well with subordinates who are aware of their work and are inspired by the system of reward and penalty. Transactional leadership maintains an organization’s status quo. In reference to the case study, Travis has some attributes of a transactional leader, and this is one of the major things that saw his success in the business. He demonstrated aggressiveness as the leader and ensured that the employees followed the established goals and objectives. Hook (2017) posits that Kalanick was willing to do everything to help the company achieve the set goals.

On the other hand, the transactional leadership style became his primary weakness, bringing the company down. Due to his aggressiveness, he judged things poorly, thus destroying his image and the company’s image. Also, they mainly focused on achieving the set goals and objectives that he couldn’t account for what was taking place in the company, for instance, the sexual relationships between co-workers and excessive partying (Hook, 2017). Consequently, this leadership style made him feel like he was leading the company in the right way since he was focused on achieving the goals and objectives of the company. Still, he failed to consider advice from other people due to his arrogance.

Does Travis Kalanick meet the definition of a transformational leader based on what you’ve read?

A transformational leadership style is an approach whereby the leader motivates, inspires, and encourages workers to create and innovate the change necessary to shape and grow the future achievement of a company (White, 2018). Transformational leaders set the model at the executive level via a strong sense of independence, employee ownership, and corporate culture in the work environment. Further, this type of leader motivates and inspires their employees without micromanaging. They trust trained workers to come up with decisions regarding their assigned work. Notably, this is a management style developed to allow workers to be innovative and creative, assess the future, and suggest new solutions to existing problems. Workers under this leadership style are also prepared to be transformational leaders through training and mentorship.

Transformational leadership style can motivate positive changes in the workplace. Transformational leaders are naturally passionate, enthusiastic, and energetic. They focus on assisting each organizational member to achieve success (White, 2018). Further, these leaders are the ideal role models, and their subordinates copy most of their actions to achieve self-efficacy. From this definition of a transformational leader, Travis Kalanick cannot be said to be a transformational leader. Although he manages to influence people to use a new strategy to build a disruptive company, persuade people to work with him, and have a clear vision for the company, he still cannot be termed a transformational leader (Karimi &Barine, 2012). Kalanick does not involve others while making decisions, and he believes he is always right, which was the primary cause of the company’s downfall.

Overall, what do you believe are the main benefits and drawbacks of Travis Kalanick’s approach to leadership?

The transactional leadership approach enabled the company to emerge as the top technology company. This leadership approach enabled the firm to gain a value of over $70 billion and employed over 11000 workers and many divers globally (Hook, 2017). As a charismatic leader, he managed to venture into capital while satisfying the company’s interests. However, the leadership mentioned above style made him overconfident. Also, his aggressive nature affected his relationship with employees, thus destroying his reputation and that of the company despite all he had achieved.


Anderson, M., & Huffman, M. (2017). The Sharing Economy Meets the Sherman Act: Is Uber a Firm, a Cartel, or Something in Between. Colum. Bus. L. Rev., 859.

Hook, L. (2017). Uber: The crisis inside the ‘cult of Travis.’ FT.Com, Retrieved from

Kirimi, D., & Barine, M. (2012). Transformational corporate leadership. Luton: Andrews UK.

What is charismatic leadership? Leading through personal conviction. (2014, November 25). St. Thomas University Online.

What is transactional leadership? How structure leads to results. (2014, November 25). St. Thomas University Online.

White, S. K. (2018). What is transformational leadership? A model for sparking innovation. CIO.


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Case Study 3 – Change Oriented Leadership : Transformational and Charismatic Leaders

Assignment Overview

Travis Kalanick was the founding CEO of the ride-sharing giant Uber. Under his leadership, Uber has become a globally successful firm with a valuation over $60 billion. Kalanick is in his early forties, but Uber is the third firm that he started. Earlier in his career he founded the file-sharing company Scour which ended up going bankrupt due to lawsuits. He had more success with another file-sharing company called Red Swoosh which he later sold for $19 million.

Travis Kalanick

Travis Kalanick

In spite of all of his accomplishments and success, he has always been a controversial CEO. Recently he was caught on video berating an Uber driver, a video that went viral. He has also faced allegations of fostering a toxic corporate culture. After facing a continuing wave of negative publicity, Kalanick had to step aside as CEO, but remains as a powerful member of Uber’s Board of Directors. He is also still one of their major shareholders, so even though another CEO will be managing the day-to-day, affairs he is likely to remain as a major leader within Uber.

For this paper you should first thoroughly review the background readings and make sure you are clear on the distinction between charismatic, transformational, and transactional leadership. Then do some research on Travis Kalanick’s leadership style. There is no shortage of articles about Travis Kalanick and Uber. But harder to find are articles on what kind of leader he is and how he leads his employees. Here are a few articles to get you started, but if you can find articles that are more recent or have more information about his leadership style, feel free to use them in your paper instead:

Chafkin, M. (2015). Travis Kalanick, the fall and spectacular rise of the man behind Uber. Retrieved from

Hook, L. (2017). Uber: The crisis inside the “cult of Travis.” Retrieved from the Trident Online Library.

Somerville, H. (2017). Uber CEO’s iron grip poses challenge in COO search. Retrieved from

Case Assignment

After you have reviewed the background materials and done some research on Travis Kalanick, write a 4 full-page paper (excluding title and references pages) to include at least three scholarly sources from the required or optional readings list addressing the issues below. Does Travis Kalanick meet the definition of a charismatic leader based on what you’ve read? Explain your answer using both the required background textbook readings as well as specific information you found about Kalanick.

  1. Does Travis Kalanick meet the definition of a transformational leader based on what you’ve read? Explain your answer using both the required background textbook readings as well as specific information you found about Kalanick.
  2. Does Travis Kalanick meet the definition of a transactional leader based on what you’ve read? Explain your answer using both the required background textbook readings as well as specific information you found about Kalanick.
  3. Overall, what do you believe are the main benefits and drawbacks of Travis Kalanick’s approach to leadership? Do you think he needs to make major changes in his leadership style?

Assignment Expectations

  1. Your Case Assignment should be at least 4 full pages in length (excluding title and reference pages).
  2. Be sure to cite and reference (using APA Style) a minimum of 3 scholarly sources listed in the Course Materials and Bibliography (Module 1 Required and Optional Reading List), or in the Module 1 Background Page: Required and Optional Readings.
  3. Upload your paper to the Module 1 Case Dropbox before the assignment due date.
  4. Include both a reference page and in-text citations. See the Student Guide to Writing a High-Quality Academic Paper, including pages 11-14 on in-text citations. Another resource is the “Writing Style Guide,” which is found under “My Resources” in the TLC portal.

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