🌀 Jack Ma – Leadership Style & Principles In The Spotlight

🌀 Jack Ma – Leadership Style & Principles In The Spotlight

🌀 Jack Ma – Leadership Style & Principles In The Spotlight

🌀 Jack Ma – Leadership Style & Principles In The Spotlight

🌀 Jack Ma – Leadership Style & Principles In The Spotlight

Jack Ma - Leadership Style & Principles cover

Jack Ma — Leadership Style & Principles


How to define the leadership style and principles of the famous Chinese entrepreneur Jack Ma? As leaders, are there specific leadership traits we could enlighten and use at our own profit? On which leadership principles did he build his empire?

Jack Ma’s success can be deemed almost a fairytale. Someone who never gave up, whatever he had to face.

This is a factIt takes a rare person to accumulate a total net worth over $20 billion through a devoted work ethic while maintaining a sense of perspective. Jack Ma is one of those people.

Jack Ma is a rock star. He founded one of the most successful companies on the planet, Alibaba.

It’s fair to say that Jack Ma isn’t a typical CEO however, he most certainly is part of a new generation of leaders that appear to be more willing to put their personality front and center regardless of typical corporate cultural norms.

He has been instrumental to the success of Alibaba right from the word go.

That’s why people around the globe are eager to follow in the wake of his stellar leadership qualities and discover the reason behind his thriving success.

Jack received Asian Award’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2015, and in 2017, he made Forbes’ list of World’s Greatest Leaders.

This is a factOn top of creating a differentiating business model and entrepreneurial experiences, Jack Ma is known for an extraordinary personality in both his leadership style and his beliefs.

He has rare charisma that makes people smile. His inspiring leadership style serves as an excellent example for leaders of budding startups and established companies alike.

So, what can other business leaders learn from Jack Ma’s leadership? Here are seven of his most exceptional leadership traits that you can adopt so you can have an idea of how Jack Ma built his huge empire in less than 2 decades!

Never Give Up

According to Jack Ma, giving up is the biggest failure. He values people who try their luck in making something happen and give their best shot in achieving their goal.

Jack Ma believes that a person is able to learn the most from his mistakes, obstacles in life, and the hardships.

This is a factThe key to success is to never lose hope, despite how depressing or difficult the situation gets, and learn from the past. With the success of Alibaba, Jack Ma proved this right time and time again.

A good story about Jack never giving up revolves around his approach to taking the gaokao meaning “high test” which is seen as one of the most challenging in the world.

Jack took the gaokao and received a 1/120 in math. He was crushed. He took it a second time and improved with a 19/120. Diligent studying and formula memorization yielded an 89/120 which earned him admittance in the local university: the Hangzhou Teachers College.

Jack Ma says leaders should be tenacious and have a clear vision. 

This is a factKnowing what you want to achieve and having the drive to chase it down will not only put you on the path to success, it will inspire those around you to work hard for that common goal. Taking pride in your work and not taking no for an answer are keys to Ma’s business philosophy.

No matter what comes, something you didn’t expect to come, embrace it. If you cannot change it, embrace it.

Rally the company around their battle scars — Alibaba survived several setbacks, an epic battle against eBay — Jack used those to bring the company together and give employees a sense of shared purpose.

📚 Additional reading

Jack Ma applied for an admission in the Harvard University and got precluded 10 times! But he never lost hope. Jack Ma took every rebuff as a lesson and worked harder the next time.

Hire The Right People

Jack Ma hires enthusiastic entrepreneurs instead of seasoned businessmen because he prefers dedication and innovation to someone who looks good on paper. These are the people we all need in our companies — those who are natural leaders, adaptable, and dedicated to a common goal.

Hire from non-first tier universities — they are hungrier.

He emphasizes how important it is to get the right people who are not necessarily the best people. Talented people may not have the determination to slog long hours or work relentlessly to succeed.

Your employees should have superior technical skills than you. If they don’t, it means that you have hired the wrong person.

This is a factTo abandon the autocratic management style that he grew up with in China and to be open to different opinions and feedback took courage and seems to yield measurable results.

Since the conception of his business, Jack Ma has helped the younger generation.

This is a factHe constantly thought about what he can do for the future generation, as he enriched the culture and education of the young ones. “I do not want people to have deep pockets but shallow minds,” he said.

Jack Ma started building his dream with his friends and students. 

Then, he convinced employees, business partners, investors and worked hard to realize the dream of Alibaba. He united everyone with a common goal. He fought like a wartime commander even when there seemed little hope.

📚 Additional reading

When Jack Ma started the company in his apartment, he didn’t find the best people. In fact, he could only find people who couldn’t find a job elsewhere. But they stuck with Alibaba and that made the difference.

Money Isn't Everything

When it comes to his wealth, Jack Ma disagrees with the title of being a rich person. Instead of seeing wealth as a form of affluence, he utilizes it as resources for him to nurture the younger generation.

Clearly Jack Ma is in business for much more than just generating money or shareholder value!

When an organization drives financial return as the ultimate metric of performance success what we see is short term thinking and unethical behavior. Financial return is simply an output from a range of behaviors and attitudes, if leaders get those behaviors and attitudes right in the organization then success is more likely.

Jack Ma focused on making progress even when they didn’t make money.

He remembers that people thanking him for Alibaba was the early days incentive for building the platform. They built the complete platform before most people knew what ecommerce meant.

Jack Ma never expected to make so much money, and, from the beginning, says what he really wanted was to be a respected businessman.

This is a factHe told CNBC he was looking for ways to use his enormous wealth to give back to society. In the 21st century, no matter whoever you are or whatever your organization is, you should not pursue size and power. You should be good. Kindness is the strongest power.

Too much money inevitably leads to a lot of mistakes. The #1 mistake most businesses make is they always say, ‘I don’t have money. If I had money, I would solve this problem’.

The trick is to focus on creating value instead. Businesses should focus on giving customers more, on providing them with the best experience possible. And if that best experience isn’t currently available, you should create it.

📚 Additional reading

Instead of focusing on money, you have got to focus on delighting your customers and users! Make their experiences magical, and you’ll win.

Don't Be Short Sighted

Jack Ma believes that a good leader should have foresight. He should try to stay one step ahead of the competition and anticipate how decisions will play out ahead of other people.

Taking time to develop creative thinking skills and following informed intuition is a hallmark of any great business leader.

When people are complaining, you need to look for opportunities. You should build solutions and solve problems. This is the essence of entrepreneurship, finding solutions to pain points of others.

Be passionate and show long term vision.

This is a factJack Ma has a grand mission. He wants to revive China’s sense of purpose and culture — things he believes were lost under Mao Zedong’s rule. He has condemned corruption and given his employees generous equity shares so they benefit from Alibaba’s success as well.

Jack’s vision for Alibaba is to survive for 120 years. In addition to his inspiring vision, Jack sets a clear set of values for his company.

This is a factHe branded the sum of value into what he calls the Six Vein Spirit Sword. These values focus on building up one’s own internal strengths in order to defeat any opponent.

A positive and optimistic attitude is indispensable to sustaining your business in a cutthroat market environment.

Jack Ma always keeps a low profile when it comes to flaunting his wealth and rather focuses on how to make his business reach the skies. The people working for Alibaba and the affiliated companies know that they have to follow the steps of their leader, as positive attitude coupled with industrious work is valued by Mr. Jack Ma.

📚 Additional reading

Instead of focusing solely on quarterly goals, create and execute long-term strategies that will create solid growth, more jobs, and better rewards for shareholders.

Hardships are Ships

Jack Ma relates to the naive innocence with which the character Forrest Gump approaches life. He watched his favorite film Forrest Gump over and over and over again.

He never let himself get down, even when he made $15 a month as a teacher while supplementing his income peddling on the street.

He kept on believing that if someone sticks to his principles and works hard, anything was possible. Like Forest Gump, he has always seen the world and its possibilities almost as if through the eyes of a child, believing technology could be magic and life truly a box of chocolates — but one that a person never knows what he will get inside.

Jack Ma believes that a person is able to learn the most from his mistakes, obstacles in life, and the hardships.

This is a factHe values people who try their luck in making something happen and give their best shot in achieving their goal. The key to success is to never lose hope, despite how depressing or difficult the situation gets, and learn from the past.

On paper, Jack Ma should not have ascended to one of China’s most successful businessmen.

This is a factNo Ivy League education, little connections, and minimal mathematical proficiency were just a few of the setbacks. Yet, Jack embraced these setbacks, acknowledged them, and wears them as badges of honor.

When you do business, his rule is never be afraid.

Never worry about competition, never worry about the pressures. If you worry about the pressure, if you worry about the competition, don’t be a businessman.

📚 Additional reading

Like all great leaders, Jack Ma recognizes that a person is able to learn the most from obstacles and hardships. They key to success is persevering and learning from your mistakes.

Clear Your Mind

Jack Ma knew from the beginning what his aspirations for Alibaba were, and how to turn them into reality. Leaders should have a clear mind before getting their feet wet with any venture.

A cluster of ideas can muddle up the way ahead and blur your sight.

Jack Ma solely focused on making Alibaba a B2B portal in the start, and only after that vision was realized did he strive to turn it into B2C and C2C as well. That happened because he was clear about when to change tracks and how.

All too often, leaders at the helm of a company don’t know how to step back and let others assume responsibility.

This is a factFor sustainable success, a leader must foster decision making skills and abilities throughout the company. This helps to prevent relying too much on top-of-the-food-chain managers.

Many leaders find it difficult to let go so others can take responsibility. To secure sustainable success, leaders need to devolve decision-making across the organization.

This prevents an over-reliance on people at the top. Think about the decisions only you can make, delegate the rest, and then work with others so they are capable and confident to make those decisions brilliantly.

The spirit of partnership, collaboration and taking responsibility has always been strong across Alibaba, and Jack Ma has long been renowned for his inclusive style of leadership.

This is a factAlthough Jack Ma is a charismatic, high-profile leader, he has demonstrated the ability to devolve leadership responsibility across the organization. He handed over the CEO reins in 2013, taking on the role of executive chairman.

📚 Additional reading

Cultivate the ideas, skills, and approach that you value in individuals you trust. When you move on, their leadership will ensure the continued success of that mission or idea.

It's Fun On a Bun

Jack Ma has worked hard from Day 1 to build a unique culture at Alibaba. Yes that sounds like an old-fashioned management-speak, but it has proved to be one of the most important factors in Alibaba’s success.

He has built a culture of participation, inclusion and fun.

Jack Ma has created an atmosphere such that Alibaba employees treat him like a combination of father figure, inspirational guru and band leader. The result is a super loyal, hardworking group of executives and employees who would follow Jack Ma to the ends of the Earth.

If you are spending your whole life working, you will certainly regret it.

This is a factHe retired from his position with a rock show performance that typically epitomizes Jack Ma and his philosophy. He has worked hard and also had a good time building Alibaba.

Be an authentic leader. We don’t have to sacrifice our sense of humor just because we’re in charge.

This is a factHe’s relatable and credible, and he possesses a strong sense of character. This is crucial for leaders because it fosters loyalty and builds a strong foundation on which our companies can grow.

Jack Ma was famously quoted as proudly calling himself crazy.

Although he certainly is a showman and quite wonderfully eccentric, his behaviors and results seem to suggest he is anything but crazy. He is a moral, humble leader who is committed to having a positive impact on the world.

📚 Additional reading

Jack has a set of beliefs as stated above. In order to reiterate those values, Jack has a long list of mantras and stories that reinforce those values like “Work happily but live seriously.”

Final Thoughts

Jack Ma - Leadership Style & Principles - Final Thoughts
Help young people. Help small guys. Because small guys will be big. Young people will have the seeds you bury in their minds, and when they grow up, they will change the world.Jack Ma

Jack Ma has been an inspiration to the next generation of entrepreneurs. His personality, positivity and ideas will continue to make the world a better place. His personal story is a remarkable feat of extraordinary accomplishments grounded in humility.

Anyone looking for an example of successful entrepreneurship and erecting a business empire right form the scratch need to go through the life of Jack Ma in detail.

This is a factHis humble beginnings and astronomical rise to the top is proof enough that there is a huge potential in the marketplace. The need is to have the right idea and execution coupled with hard work to reach the zenith.

The days of the one-man-show CEO are gone, and no one demonstrates that better than Jack Ma.

When we focus on hiring the diverse, top-notch employees we need and treating them with honesty and respect, we’ll have a dream team of rousers ready to take on the biggest companies in the game.

It is clear that Jack Ma’s philosophy is built for success in a rapidly developing world. We can all learn a thing or two from this self-made billionaire.

Besides his tenacious attitude, Jack Ma is probably one of the most enlightened entrepreneurs to date for thinking beyond the tangible gains of his business imperatives. His embodiment of the responsive and responsible leadership is indeed inspiring.

Companies fail because they fail to dream. It’s the dreams that keep us working hard. Its dreams that keep us never afraid of mistakes, or of setbacks.

Jack Ma had a dream of evolving how China does business and, thanks to his leadership qualities, he has made quite the impression. Did you like this article? Looking for more help? Or want to share your thoughts with me in this regard? Feel free to use the comments section below!

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