Larry Ellison – Portrait Of a Leader Essay

Larry Ellison – Portrait Of a Leader Essay

Leaders are the role models in our communities enlisted with the task of guiding others into achieving particular goals; their impact goes beyond our present lives and into our future. Leadership can therefore be simply defined as a value based process that enables one to inspire people to achieve extraordinary goals and targets.

Basically leadership demands the enlisting of other peoples support to achieve certain objectives, (Winterton, 2001). Leadership is slightly different from management because mere management focuses on getting things done single handedly and making decisions purely on instinct without much effort to consult, (McCrimmon, 2009). Generally for businesses to succeed they need managers that will lead and not simply manage. Additionally leadership requires high qualifications and standards because it involves great demanding responsibilities which may be difficult to execute if handled ordinarily, (Elmore, 2001). It is important to note that if there is a void in the leadership style of a company for example then people are greatly affected because no one is capable of rising beyond or higher than the existent leadership.

This paper uses Larry Ellison to illustrate and describe the traits and important characteristics of a successful leader and constantly insinuating their impact on management.

About Larry Ellison

Larry Ellison is a renowned American entrepreneur born in 1944. He is the co- founder and has been the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the giant software company, Oracles Corporation since 1977, (O’Brien, 2009). He was not privileged to live with his parents as many other kids but rather he spent almost all his life with adoptive parents. His current career is said to have been inspired by writings on database systems by Codd Edgar during his period as an employee at the Ampex Corporation.

His company has faced various problems including for example the laying off of some of the work force in the early 90’s due to reasons of revenue and cash mismatches, a crisis that almost led to the company’s bankruptcy. The company survived the ordeal but not before settling some law suits. Since then Oracles dominated the market for mid range systems and in fact defeated Informix their greatest rival in 1997. Presently though the company is still in rivalry with other giant companies but they still maintain their competitive advantages under the leadership of Larry Ellison.

Currently Larry Ellison is among the top three richest Americans, he is the richest Californian and is also listed as the number four richest person in the world. He is valued at not less than 22 billion dollars and his shares in the Oracle Corporation are worth not less than 23 billion dollars, (Forbes, 2009). Additionally in the year 2008 Larry was ranked as the most or the top paid Chief Executive Officer, (AP, 2008). The question would then be what makes Larry Ellison the success that he is, as a manager and a leader?

The traits of a leader

There is no doubt that Ellison has achieved enormous spells of success in his career despite the controversies that have surrounded him. Oracles Corporation success in fact is not purely a function of its competitors mistakes and luck but rather a function of bold entrepreneurship administered by Larry Ellison, (Manfred, 2007) .Without a shadow of doubt he must therefore have applied the key principles that lead to successful leadership and management. It is true that his is a success story coined from humble beginnings with the possibility of defeat, (Symonds &Ellison, 2003).

A company’s ability to develop tomorrow by using the strategies intended for today entirely depends on the environment in which the employees operate in. The company’s leader therefore should be capable of providing that kind of business environment needed for employees to produce positive results, a thing which Ellison has greatly achieved.

Larry Ellison has demonstrated extraordinary leadership traits that other leaders in such positions might find useful to emulate. For example Ellison has managed to stand out in a business environment that involves egos, huge fortunes and great risks. He has been outspoken, daring, results driven and most importantly exuded self – belief, (Symonds &Ellison, 2003). Larry believes in himself and is said to always taken time to carry out self reflection and evaluation to discover more of his strengths, weaknesses and attributes. This continuous process of self discovery has allowed him the chance to go out of his way seek means to improve Larry as a person causing him to develop business skills that have been termed as ‘ruthless’ by his competitors.

This man has always taken full responsibility of his company’s actions at all times avoiding the blame shift game that most entrepreneurs play especially in periods of crisis. This has enabled him to remain focused and always keen on coming up with more innovative strategies and products to drive his company to unimaginable heights and a place of dominance in the markets. In fact his strategies are said to not only be well executed but also carefully planned and aiming at problem solving and building viable commercial databases, (Manfred, 2007).

Larry has never allowed himself to be familiar with fear, he has maintained a quest to dominate and therefore his strategy has remained daring and focused on winning by all means and at all costs.

At the initial stages of his company Larry put together an aggressive task force that was result driven in order to enable the achievement of the tough objectives that he had set, (Symonds & Ellison, 2003). The implication is that a leader should have the intelligence of choosing his task force or human resources right and utilize their capabilities to the fullest. This is because the human resource greatly determines whether a business will succeed or is destined for failure. Hiring people with the wrong qualifications to do the job any way is not at all recommended and will in most time spell doom for the company over time.

Larry has additionally been always technically adept and proficient. He had the experience in the field of his current expertise after working for two software companies and therefore has always been familiar with the tasks of his employees. Even some of the employees have been able to recognize that he has always known what he is doing and in fact as they put it – he the smartest person in the field of software, (Manfred, 2007). A leader therefore must always be technically familiar with the field of his specialization and go to the extent of knowing what his employees daily tasks entail, this will make it easier for him to spot problems in the internal operations of his business the moment they occur.

Moreover Larry has always been informed and has always sought to expound his knowledge in softwares. He has therefore been capable of conversing with all kinds of people regarding his tools of trade at anytime. Information literacy is actually a must for any leader that aspires to be successful in this century, (Stroke, 2001). This is because there has been a shift from manufacturing economies to information based economies. Without sufficient information on the changing trends in the market poor management will be inevitable and business prosperity very elusive.

To his employees he has always given them flexibility; he has established no common rules and only success and growth matters, (Manfred, 2007). He has endeavored to get the best out of his staff by training them and constantly motivating them to achieving the desired success by his own accomplishments and stamina. He has actually been the example that his workers need to look up to and feel challenged to achieve results. Additionally he has always been a good communicator and always seeking opportunities to interact with his staff at all levels without discrimination in order to know their views, perceptions and contributions that will make the company dominate the markets.

Although the issue of his obsession to control the business has been criticized by many it worked for him anyway so it might as well not matter. His strengths should be the ones that need to be emulated by other upcoming leaders.

Finally I think Larry Ellison is the perfect image of a leader that I desire to emulate. In summary he has exuded incredible integrity, vision, responsibility, focus, commitment, and good communication skills. He has also always been able to make timely rational decisions and act on them with great courage and objectivity. Long live Larry Ellison!

Reference List

Associated press (AP), (2008). Oracle’s Larry Ellison grabs top spot on the best paid list. Retrieved on 25th July, 2009 from 21_oracles_larry_ellison_grabs_top_spot_on_.html

Elmore, T.(2001). Portrait of a Leader: The Skill Formation of a Leader. Kent: Equip, p.12.

Forbes Magazine, (2009).The World’s Billionaires. Retrieved on 25th July , 2009 from Ellison_JKEX.html

Manfred, F. (2007).Family business on the couch: a psychological perspective. New York: John Wiley and Sons, p115-120.

Mccrimmon, M. (2009). What is leadership. Leadership for tomorrow.  Retrieved on 25th July, 2009 from

O’Brien, C. (2009). Here we go again: Oracle’s Ellison gets more options. The people and companies driving innovation. Retrieved on 25th July, 2009 from more-options/

Stroke, J. (2001).Theodore Roosevelt on Leadership. California: Prima Publishing, p.15 17

Symonds, M. & Ellison, L. (2003). Softwar: an intimate portrait of Larry Ellison and Oracle. New York: Simon & Schuster, p 42-47

Winterton, J. (2001). What is leadership. The Nation’s Newspaper. Retrieved on 25th July, 2009 from

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