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Ursula M. Burns Leadership Style

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Leadership
Wordcount: 1475 words Published: 23rd Sep 2019

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 “Ursula M. Burns, is an American businesswoman. She is the chairman and CEO of VEON, a senior advisor to Teneo, and a non-executive director of the beverage company Diageo since April 2018, among other directorships such as Uber. In 2009, Burns became CEO of Xerox, the first black woman CEO to head a Fortune 500 company, and the first woman to succeed another as head of a Fortune 500 company. Burns served as Xerox CEO from 2009 to 2016 and Xerox chairwoman from 2010 to 2017. In 2014, Forbes rated her the 22nd most powerful woman in the world. Among other civic positions, she was a leader of the STEM program of the White House from 2009 to 2016, and head of the President’s Export Council from 2015 until 2016.” (Wikipedia, 2019)

Key issues

 Ursula talks about two moments when she said that would “run” Xerox. The first moment was when she first had started. Then the second time was about 10 years after she was working there, she was asked to be the executive assistant to the CEO. She thought that the executive assistant was a job that was beneath her, and she asked the CEO if he had known that she had a master’s degree as a mechanical engineer, and the CEO stated that yes he knew exactly who she was, and that she should take the executive assistant job. When she took that position, that was the real time that she had realized that she could run Xerox, she was able to see everything that the CEO was doing and going though.

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 When Xerox hires a new engineer, they must meet with Ursula. She goes over with them some must haves for working for the company. The first thing that she goes over with them is that she explains that they are not going to run the place when they walk in the door. They do want to hear your opinion, but you have to earn your position to get your voice. You might walk into the company with your degree, but that degree doesn’t give you certain privileges, Ursula tells us that everyone starts out at the same level, and when they get in the door, they have to start all over again.

 Ursula talked about her balancing her personal life with her professional life. She talks about her mother. How her mother said that her sister, her brother and herself all needed to go to college. Her mother talked to the kids about money, so when it was time for Ursula to go to college she never thought about how she was going to pay for college. One of the things that Ursula’s mom has taught her was to “Give back to the world, more than you get out of it.” (YouTube, 2012)

Key perspectives presented by Burns re: The Haves Investment

 Ursula explains her theory on the “haves”. She feels like the United States has set up the “haves” for disappointment. She then goes on to explain that the president has 8 years if they are a good president, 4 years other wise to put into place the things that they want to effect the economic system in the United States. We have raised our children to achieve greatness, and we have a system in place to achieve greatness. The stock market goes up, people go to school, and people spend money. The 20% of people who vote and count are being disrupted. And they’ve been disrupted because the world hasn’t stood still. The world has said “I like the way these people live in this other place, it’s pretty cool. They have roads, the lights are lit, and they have paved roads.” (YouTube, 2012)  Half a billion people in the world have gotten to the point where they have all these things. They are the “HAVES.” These people are what’s disrupting the economic system. We the other 80% of the population are asking the government to fix this issues with social security, education, healthcare, unemployment, excetera, but I don’t want to pay more in taxes and I don’t want it to cost me anymore. We need to reset our government to get the more that we are expecting. The 20% of the population is going to have to give more so that the 80% of the population is happy. (YouTube, 2012)

Written Discussion regarding whether you agree or disagree with Ursula Burns “haves” perspective AND Why or Why not?

 I agree with Ursula a little about this topic. I do believe that the 20% of the people should be taxed more, if they make more money. But I don’t believe that taxing people to make up my life easier should be the “cure all.” Taxing people who have more money doesn’t help me in anyway because I don’t have as much as they do. What would help me would be if I can get a better job, where I am paid what I am actually worth. I work for a great company, but I get paid a minimum amount for what I feel that I’m worth. I have been with the company for five and a half years and have had two raises in that time. I honestly feel that if job paid their employee’s what they thought that they were worth that would help the economy, and it would help the employee also.

Written Discussion regarding your Understanding of and Professional belief about the most Effective Leadership style and traits.

 Ursula tells us about her leadership lessons. The first lesson is, the power of communication. What that means is you need to be straightforward and honest with your communication. The second lesson is the power of culture. The culture of your business will help it succeed. It is important to strengthen all of the good times, you need to have diversity and teamwork, and you have to change the bad stuff. The third lesson is to have a powerful vision. Let your employees know what they are in for. Aim for reaching back to your company’s highest success and bring the company forward. The fourth lesson is people equal power. People can do just about anything when they are aligned around a common goal and objective. The fifth lesson is customers. Make the customer the center to everything, just think about who you are serving, your mission to them, and put the customer first. And the last lesson, is to learn the value of leadership. Good leadership is indispensable. You must be consistent, honest, and forceful. (Brandon Gaille, 2019) “The following leadership traits are recommendations to being a successful leader according to Ursula Burns.

1. Be Authentic.
2. Listen to your employees.
3. Recognize that you cannot do everything yourself.
4. Take a stand for what you believe in.
5. Measure goals and outcome to make better decisions.
6. Have fun and truly enjoy your job to have the most success.” (Brandon Gaille, 2019)

 I honestly feel that these traits are correct when you are looking for a leader. A great leader should make sure that her employees are her main objective, without happy employees then the company is going to suffer. Ursula tells us in the video that the employees, if they are unhappy they can turn a well profitable company into a company that’s close to bankruptcy. A great leader also should make sure that their customer is a priority. Without the company’s customers then that can cause the company to go under also. Just look at company’s like Sears, Blockbuster, or Albertsons, they lost customers and their stores closed. 

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 I actually liked this video very much. I thought that Ursula Burns was very interesting, and she was funny. She tells you just what she is thinking, and she said that she’s like that. She is defiantly someone that I could look up to. I would love to go to one of her talks, she has so much to say and it’s just so fascinating. Ursula is very motivating. I feel like I could do anything after listening to her talk, and I went and looked for more of her talks, and listened to them before stating this report, she’s just that motivating. I think she’s also motivating because she is the first female, black CEO in a fortune 500 company, in history. And she wasn’t a CEO for just a year or two, she was CEO for seven years, that’s impressive.


  • Brandon Gaille. (2019). Retrieved 02 09, 2019, from www.brandongallie.com: https://brandongaille.com/xerox-ceo-ursula-burns-leadership-style-and-traits/
  • Wikipedia. (2019, 01 20). Retrieved 02 07, 2019, from www.wikipedia.com: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ursula_Burns
  • YouTube. (2012, 03 29). Retrieved 02 09, 2019, from www.youtube.com: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrOsNhncPA4&feature=youtu.be





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