It’s hard to imagine a 2009 startup being valued in 2017 at roughly $50 billion as anything but successful – however, Uber has seen its share of setbacks in recent months that may have cost the company billions in its valuation at the time.
With allegations ranging from sexual harassment to intellectual property theft and a heated debate between former CEO Travis Kalanick and one of his Uber drivers going viral, it may have been a good time for a changing of the guard for the ride-sharing giant.
In June, Kalanick resigned as Uber’s CEO (a move that may have been prompted by the company’s investors) and, two months later, Dara Khosrowshahi took his place. The former Expedia CEO may still be warming up to his new role, but he’s already making waves about what the future holds for Uber. So how different will Khosrowshahi and his potential leadership style be from former CEO Kalanick? Using IBM Watson’s Personality Insights, we broke down the character traits of these two technology elites. Continue reading to see what we learned.
Where It Counts
When it comes to the personality traits that might give us a clue about what to expect from Uber’s new CEO, the Big Five categories may be one of the most important considerations. This model is designed to explain how a person might engage with the world and how the world might see them in return.
When we used Watson to explore Kalanick and Khosrowshahi’s openness, both ranked fairly high. Kalanick has never been shy about his opinions, but Khosrowshahi may have eked ahead of him with his parting letter from Expedia. Khosrowshahi may be accepting a new position at one of the most visible companies in the world, but he still admits to a sense of fear in embarking on his new quest. That emotional sentiment may have also endeared him over Kalanick when it comes to agreeableness, according to our analysis. As some experts point out, showing vulnerability doesn’t necessarily make you weak. In fact, it can be one of the most underrated leadership skills that help to establish trust between you, your company, and the world.
In analyzing both men’s level of conscientiousness (their ability to act in an organized and thoughtful way) and extraversion (the tendency to seek stimulation from others), Khosrowshahi managed to score higher than Kalanick. Only when we looked at their emotional ranges (the extent to which a person is more sensitive to their environment) did Kalanick score higher – by one-hundredth of a point.
What Sets Them Apart
So how are Dara Khosrowshahi and Travis Kalanick alike – and how are they different? Using Watson’s Personality Insights, we determined each of their top five personality traits to illuminate how things might stay the same for Uber and how they could change.
For both men, immoderation was ranked as the No. 1 characteristic based on their words. Defined as self-indulgence, immoderation shows they tend to make decisions that are focused on short-term rewards rather than long-term success. In January, Kalanick agreed to participate in an economic advisory committee for Donald Trump, a decision that (coupled with political protest surrounding the refugee ban) spurred the #DeleteUber movement around the country. Khosrowshahi also may have suffered from bad decision-making over the years, and even publicly admitted he might not have been a very good CEO at Expedia in the first few years.
While both tech leaders share the quality of establishing trust, cautiousness outranks trust for Khosrowshahi. Deliberate behaviors – like the decision to acquire TripAdvisor in 2005 and then spin it off in 2011 – may showcase his ability to think through decisions carefully and hopefully ensure the best outcomes. Intellect was also a shared trait between Khosrowshahi and Kalanick but ranked higher for Khosrowshahi based on Watson’s analysis. Intellect and intellectual curiosity highlight their ability to think outside the box and in a more abstract way, which may pay off for Uber as it expands into new, more contested markets.
While Khosrowshahi and Kalanick may share many personality traits, we discovered a few deviations. While Kalanick’s top five characteristics also included excitement-seeking and melancholy, Khosrowshahi showcased more authority-challenging tendencies. Considering that experts have expressed concerns at Khosrowshahi’s ability to challenge Uber’s pre-existing internal culture for the better, Watson’s analysis regarding his ability to challenge the status quo may be just what the tech giant needs.
The Changing Tide
Only time will tell what Dara Khosrowshahi holds for the ride-sharing goliath’s future. Khosrowshahi is already on record saying that things will have to change for Uber, but exactly what those changes entail remains to be seen. One thing is certain, though: Dara Khosrowshahi is no Travis Kalanick. Watson’s Personality Insights revealed the many ways their leadership styles diverge and the personality traits Khosrowshahi exhibits that might serve him well in this new endeavor.
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