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Analysis of Jack Ma’s Business and Leadership Style

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Leadership
Wordcount: 2691 words Published: 26th Jul 2021

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Part of: Leadership


In this decade, no one knows “Alibaba”, the largest wholesale site in the world, which is a Chinese-owned website that has become international. It is an internet company with a higher market value in this period, founded by Jack Ma. He is also an executive chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. He is now officially a billionaire, the richest man in China and the 33rd richest person in the world (Investopedia, 2017).

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Jack Ma is the prototype of a successful businessman, who is a true rags-to-riches story. He became an inspiration to people around the world. Jack Ma was born in Hangzhou, located in the south-eastern part of China. His family does not have a good financial position. However, his entrepreneurial characteristics have shown since he was a child. In his childhood, he was different from other children that spent time playing. Jack Ma became interested in learning, especially the importance of the English language. He believes that becoming bilingual can create more opportunities for his life. Therefore, he manages to limit himself to English. He rode by bike more than 45 minutes into the city every day to volunteer as a guide for foreign tourists to go around the city (Insider, 2017). However, in his studies, he did not do well. He failed the exam many times, including two times at a key primary school, three times at the middle school, and two times at the university-entrance exam. After he graduated, he tried to apply for a lot of jobs, and he was rejected more than 30 times before he worked as an English teacher at Hangzhou Dianzi University (Mohamed, 2018). However, the failure did not stop him from dreaming. During his time as a teacher, he started his translation business. And he got the chance to go to the United States for the first time. It was then that Jack Ma was first introduced to the internet and computers, and this is the beginning of Alibaba (An, 2017).

 Needless to say, Jack Ma is a role model of a successful business person in 20s, who has unique characteristics, such as high ambition, wide perspective, positive thinking, and a unique leadership style.

In this assignment report, I will analyze Mister Jack Ma’s leadership by using reliable articles and publications to analyze as follows Jack Ma’s behavior and his leadership style are demonstrated by the individual that reflect his vision, how it has evolved over time in different contexts, and this assignment report ends with reflections about the inspiration from his leadership styles and conclusion.

Mr. Jack Ma’s leadership Style

Leadership development

Mr. Jack Ma is a man who failed in life many times, whether learning or working. Before setting up Alibaba, he did not do well at technology. He was first introduced to the internet in 1995 when he was 31 years old. He did not know how to manage people. However, his company reached the 8th richest in the tech industry in 2016, and he had more than 66,000 full-time employees. (Investopedia, 2017). Jack Ma told in several interviews and articles that the key behind the success of the business is “Never give up”. He dealt with failure in his education and career and believes that failures are a big opportunity to improve. Using Michale Zakkour’s article (2014), he offers empirical evidence to show that Mr. Ma never stopped improving as a leader. He tried to study Western culture, management concepts, and successful businesses for a year. Moreover, he reduced a gap between leader and his employees by creating an atmosphere during working. He always working hard in the team as a leader that always inspired his employees. Therefore, He gained a loyal and hardworking group of executives, managers, and employees.


According to Deep Patel (2018), the outstanding personality of Jack Ma is he is extremely determined person. His previously life has shown that he was rejected for a job at KFC. He was also only one of the five applicants of the Chinese police academy that did not get a job, and he was rejected 10 times by Harvard University. Although he was confronted with failure frequently, it taught Mr. Ma determination. Moreover, Jack Ma has a sense of humor. One the noticeable example is at the celebrated Alibaba 18th-anniversary annual meeting. Jack Ma had to get up on the front of employees and shareholders and talk about how great the company is. The highlight of the show was Jack Ma entertaining an aggressive approach to the annual meeting. He got up dressed as Michael Jackson and danced a few songs ‘Billie Jean’. He had a full costume and was joined in the back by many dancers in front of thousands of Alibaba employees. It’s hard to believe that the CEO of the Chinese e-commerce giant would get up and perform an amazing show. Undoubtedly, he can entertain his employees and shareholders in the meeting (Hasnain, 2017).


One of the important keys leading Jack Ma to become a successful leader is “Teamwork.” He believes he cannot be successful without good team members because he not a professional in many ways, such as technology. So, he needs great people with great skills in the organization. Once Jack Ma gave an interview on how to separate a leader from an employee. His answer was a skill. He said, “Your employees should have superior technical skills than you. If they don’t, it means that you have hired the wrong person.” Therefore, Mr. Ma treats his employees as partners. He has built a culture of participation. Although he is not good at technology and computers, he has teaching skills. He knows how to teach, encourage, and inspire other people. Therefore, he uses those skills to communicate with his employees to understand clearly the goals of the company, resulting in everyone working under a single goal, leading the company’s advanced performance. Additionally, he always leads his employees to share their idea and tries to make them feel comfortable while working (Husain, 2018). Furthermore, Mr. Ma likes to give an opportunity to the new generation because when he was young, no one gave him the opportunity, so he wants to give the new generation a chance to show their ability, which might be intelligent and work better than the previous generation. He also believes in building a team that works long hours and provides opportunities to these people is more important than anything else (Wang, 2017).

Leadership Matrix & Leadership Paradigm Framework of Mr. Jack Ma

 Before assigning Jack Ma in the leadership matrix and leadership paradigm framework, there are some tips for leadership provided by Jack Ma that can help us clearly understand his style of leadership. There are 7 Tips as follows: 1. Leadership is about working together. 2. Reason to succeed is Our team. 3. Understand local culture. 4. Very focused on your brain. 5. Difficult times always received good returns. 6. If you don’t do it, nothing’s possible. 7. Give precedence to employees (Jack Ma, n.d.).

 According to Jack Ma’s tips for leadership, it can be clearly seen that he is iconic of the new leader in this period because he has a unique style of leading. First, viewable through tips number one, two, and seven, he is remarkable at Team leadership in Leaders & Task framework because he is highly concerned with his employees along with the tasks. As mentioned in the organization part, he treats his employees as partners, rather than boss and underling. What’s more, as can be seen from the company’s values, Jack Ma has built the culture in the organization not too be serious because he wants his employees to work happily as a consequence of great working and loyalty.

 Second, Jack Ma was in the position of participative in Leaders & Group: authority & autonomy framework. Jack Ma used to be an autocratic leader. However, he found that this type of management will limit employees’ freedom and ideas. Thus, he allows his employees to take part in decision-making because he believes that the best decisions come when everything is agreed upon by the majority. He always listens to his employees’ opinions without arrogance and encourages members in the team to present their ideas, which can help the company improve all the time (Ee & Yazdanifard, 2015).

 Third, dealing with the conflict framework, Jack Ma should be in Collaborating, because he said the company would not be successful without the ability of cooperation between members in the team for the reason that most individuals do not have all skills. They need other people to enhance the gap.

 For the Leadership paradigms, Jack Ma stands between transformational leadership and visionary leadership because he is a person with a broader vision, as seen from the history of Jack Ma founding Alibaba since he was first introduced to the internet. He noticed many products produced in China, but when he used the internet to search, the first word was “Beer.” The results surprised him because no Chinese beers turned up, then that he decided to found an internet company for his home country (An, 2017). This initiative of Alibaba started because Mr. Ma saw a potential way to do business online and become profitable. In addition, he was a strong inspiration for employees by taking advantage of his communication skill, trained by being a teacher over a period.

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Mr. Jack Ma is one of the most influential people in this decade. He has several standpoints that can motivate other people, including myself. Since I was young, my parents always taught me do not give up if you have not tried your best yet. After I studied his history, I saw, from when he was a child until this time, he never gives up, which is the superior inspiration for me and others. I really respect him as my model of the best leader.

The first and foremost, Jack Ma’s characteristic that can stimulate me is his ambition. Although he was born in a poor family, which rarely has the opportunity to become a businessman, he did it. Compared with myself, I am very lucky that I was born in a complete family, whether financial, resident, vehicle and education, but I often blame my life and do not try my best. It’s necessary for me to build a growth mindset immediately. Thus, I established Mr. Ma as my role model of an impressive person.

Another distinguished characteristic of Jack Ma is the way that he is leading his employees. He does not position himself as a boss, forcing people to be underlings, but he treats them as important people in the company, which can gain loyalty from them. They are willing to work hard, which benefits the company.  While, in Thailand, most companies give priority to job position and generation. Therefore, people who work in lower positions or new generation employees do not have much chance to present their ideas, which leads the company to lose new ideas. For me, to become an entrepreneur in the future, I prefer to use Jack Ma’s leadership style to adapt to my firm.


Mr. Jack Ma is a famous successful businessman in this decade, with a great leading and perspective, which has a powerful inspiration to a lot of people who learn through his story. Since he was young, he has had many experiences, which mostly were failure and rejection. However, he has positive thinking, leading him to be a fighter. He believes that bad experiences in life are the chances you need. Use this failure to improve yourself, and the next time, you can do better than the previous.

Another outstanding characteristic that can be noticed from analyzing Mr. Ma is the way that he is leading his underlings. Most of the content in this report is about how Jack Ma works with his employees in terms of leading because he believes investing in people is the most important thing. Thus, he has built his company’s culture to be not too formal and serious by trying to participate in the team as a member not a boss. Moreover, he also gives trust in his employees to take part in decision-making.

 Mr. Ma’s transformational and visionary leadership style is interesting. He can integrate these two leadership styles, leading employees perfectly. For transformational leadership style, he is a man that has high motivation power. His employees are willing to work without force, which can bring out the ability of the individual at the same time. Likewise, with his visionary leadership style, Jack Ma is very visionary. He can see the possible way to start the business earlier than others. Furthermore, he has advanced communication skills. He knows how to speak to inspire people, which can benefit the company

 In my point of view, Mr. Jack Ma is a respectable person who inspires many people, especially those who will become entrepreneurs because, to be successful in this decade, it is not easy. It has a lot of obstruction, which can make entrepreneurs fail. Studying Jack Ma as a model, whether leadership style, personality, organization, his tips for leadership, and quotes, might lead companies to achieve a goal easier. 


  • Alibabagroup.com. (2018). Alibaba Group. [online] Available at: https://www.alibabagroup.com/en/about/culture [Accessed 18 Nov. 2018].
  • AN, S. (2017). Jack Ma – The Inspirational Story of Alibaba Founder. [online] ShoutMeLoud. Available at: https://www.shoutmeloud.com/jack-ma-alibaba-founder.html [Accessed 18 Nov. 2018].
  • Fannin, R. (2018). How I Did It: Jack Ma, Alibaba.com, How I Did It Article. [online] Inc.com. Available at: https://www.inc.com/magazine/20080101/how-i-did-it-jack-ma-alibaba.html [Accessed 18 Nov. 2018].
  • Husain, H. (2018). 10 Leadership Secrets of Jack Ma that Shaped Alibaba’s Roaring Success. [online] TaskQue. Available at: https://blog.taskque.com/leadership-secrets-jack-ma-alibabas/ [Accessed 18 Nov. 2018].
  • Inc.com. (2017). The Rags-to-Riches Life Story of Alibaba Founder Jack Ma. [online] Available at: https://www.inc.com/business-insider/alibaba-jack-ma-life-story.html [Accessed 18 Nov. 2018].
  • Investopedia. (2017). Jack Ma’s Worth and Influence. [online] Available at: https://www.investopedia.com/insights/jack-mas-worth-influence/ [Accessed 18 Nov. 2018].
  • Mohamed S., J. (2018). Jack Ma’s Success Story. [online] Investopedia. Available at: https://www.investopedia.com/university/jack-ma-biography/jack-ma-success-story.asp [Accessed 18 Nov. 2018].
  • Patel, D. (2014). 10 Personality Traits of Legendary Entrepreneurs. [online] Entrepreneur. Available at: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/310026 [Accessed 18 Nov. 2018].
  • Tham Jo Ee, C. and Yazdanifard, R. (2015) ‘The Review of Alibaba’s Operation Management Details that have Navigated them to Success’, pp.51-55. Available at: https://globaljournals.org/GJMBR_Volume15/8-The-Review-of-Alibabas-Operation.pdf%0A
  • Tobak, S. (2014). How Alibaba’s Jack Ma Became the Richest Man in China. [online] Entrepreneur. Available at: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/237692 [Accessed 18 Nov. 2018].
  • Wang, K. (2017). Jack Ma’s Top 5 Tips for Long-Term Success. [online] Inc.com. Available at: https://www.inc.com/kaitlyn-wang/jack-ma-alibaba-tips-for-success.html [Accessed 18 Nov. 2018].
  • Zakkour, M. (2014). How Jack Ma’s ‘Crazy’ Management Style Built a Technology Empire. [online] Entrepreneur. Available at: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/237881 [Accessed 18 Nov. 2018].


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