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Marissa Mayer’s Leadership Style at Yahoo!


Scholars have come up with theories that underscore the different leadership styles that leader employ in different organizations. The majority of leaders appreciate these theories, as they are compatible with different personality traits. However, the challenge lies in becoming an effective leader for different people may lack the congenital ideas to attain leadership success. Leadership primarily deals with taking care of all the stakeholders involved in a given organization. Successful leadership entails one’s capability to establish the specific demands of an organization and identify the relevant action to address those issues. This paper highlights Marissa Mayer’s leadership style.


This paper focuses on the leadership style of Marissa Ann Mayer, who is the current President of Yahoo! since July 2012 to date. In addition, this paper will highlight Mayer’s specific style of leadership at Yahoo! and her impact on the organization’s health.

Mayer’s leadership styles

In an effort to improve efficiency, Mayer aimed at simplifying the bureaucratic procedures and improving the institution’s culture in a bid to enhance service delivery (Carlson, 2015). She embraced transformational leadership style of inspiring her team members as she expected the best from every worker. She had to adjust her approach to fit the current challenges at Yahoo! in a bid to raise productivity and match the existing competition. Contingency theories explain Mayer’s direction of action. For instance, transformative leaders have to make swift decisions and decide the most suitable leadership approach in a given company (Waters, 2013) and Marissa followed this script. Within her situation, she had to decide whether to be more people or task-oriented. In a bid to deal with the situation, she launched a new program referred to as PB&J, which sought to compile workers’ complements and their tally on challenges facing them in office.

By the start of 2013, Mayer introduced a new policy requiring all home-working employees to start working from the office (Carlson, 2015). She preferred corporate culture to worker independence and this decision was met with a lot of refutation from employees and the business society. Moors (2012) holds that conventional trend in the business community advocates that employees are highly productive when working from home; however, Mayer defied this convention and demanded all workers to report to the office. She strongly believed that the time had come for Yahoo! workers to create internal cohesiveness and teamwork. By the time Mayer was joining Yahoo!, it was evident that she had to change the workplace culture. Embracing the corporate culture is just one way of achieving organizational strategic goals and improving efficiency (Lee & Yu, 2004). Her idea was based on the contingency theories and the stagnating situation at Yahoo! at that time influenced her choice of action in the quest to revive the company.

Condition of Yahoo! under Mayer, based on media information

According to Carlson (2015), some notable Yahoo investors had approached AOL CEO, Tim Armstrong, to take the position of Mayer in Yahoo. Establishing what Mayer was doing wrong to be dropped as the CEO is complicated because she appears to be leading Yahoo! into the right direction. On the other side, evaluating what Armstrong has done to earn interest from some Yahoo investors is unclear since he has only doubled AOL’s valuation since becoming the CEO. According to Carlson (2015), Mayer nurtured Yahoo! relationship with Alibaba, which is a Chinese e-commerce company. Mayer has her shortcomings just like anybody else, but she moves swiftly to correct her mistakes.

Carlson (2015) acknowledges that to this far, some of the Mayer’s criticisms are controversial. She is yet to develop Yahoo! to the top line and she is yet to implement working plan to escalate the company to the upper grade of the technology industry. However, two and half years’ period is a short time for a complex company like Yahoo to achieve long-term goals. Therefore, Mayer stands out as the best candidate to turn around Yahoo! into a competitive technology company. She has tripled Yahoo’s share price, she is developing a consistent media strategy, and upgrading the company on media devices.

Relating Mayer’s leadership style and the condition of Yahoo

Mayer continues to demonstrate solid leadership at Yahoo! Mayer’s corporate idea of bringing workers close together has nurtured a culture of innovation and change. Workers have started to view the idea as a strengthening point that backs Mayer’s vision and organizational targets to restructure Yahoo! in the quest to develop a competitive advantage in the marketplace. While workers may prefer working from home, Yahoo’s high-tech designers are working to create home-like friendly environment within the workplace, which is aimed at boosting team morale. Mayer’s leadership style and influence did not take her long to build confidence and trust amongst employees. She was ready to make decisions, she expected challenges, and her uncompromising character assisted her to implement the corporate culture, which most the majority of the workers adopted in a short while. Mayer’s leadership strategies have raised the employees’ satisfaction coupled with increasing innovation and investor confidence, and these factors continue to elevate public trust as Yahoo! keeps endeavors to become a market leader.

Unlike the expectations of many that Mayer needed to cut on costs especially by laying off workers, she focused on raising the number of mobile engineers and editorial staff members. She was criticized for that decision, but she knew that it was the best endeavor to improve growth opportunity and value addition at all levels. Mayer has sought complementary organizational collaboration and networking in a bid to ensure that Yahoo! stays competitive (Carlson, 2015). Since Yahoo lacks important mobile hardware, a browser, or even a mobile operating system, it has to partner with other organizations such as Apple, Facebook, and Google. This aspect helps Yahoo! to boost its user experience and meet the ever-rising customer demands. Making and sustaining friendship with competitors is a difficult choice for a leader, but Mayer has seen the opportunity and she is out to make Yahoo! a success story despite the challenges.


Most Yahoo CEOs before Mayer employed different leadership skills in a bid to turn around the company’s efficiency by either laying off workers or pushing for innovation of new products. The tenure of Mayer has been successful so far because she has raised the company’s performance, thus leading to a competitive position. Although investors are not content with what Mayer has achieved so far, she is aware that Yahoo! is not yet where it should be, but she insists that it will eventually get there. With her current motivation for workers and deployment of new technology, Mayer will probably make Yahoo! a market leader.


Carlson, N. (2015). Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo. New York, NY: Hachette Book Group.

Lee, S., & Yu, K. (2004). Corporate culture and organizational performance. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 19(4), 340 – 359.

Moors, G. (2012). The effect of response style bias on the measurement of transformational, transactional, and laissez-faire leadership. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 21 (2), 271-198.

Waters, R. (2013). The role of stewardship in leadership: Applying the contingency theory of leadership to relationship cultivation practices of public relations practitioners. Journal of Communication Management, 17(4), 324 – 340.


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