Employees · Entrepreneurship

How would you have acted if you were Uber CEO Travis Kalanick?

Dinesh sharma Software Tester at code brew labs

Last updated on March 2nd, 2017

Some of you have probably seen the recent video of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick arguing with an Uber driver. What starts with a discussion ends with the two arguing and Kalanick slamming the door. Much has been said since about Kalanick’s demeanor. Should he have been that argumentative with someone who is essentially one of his employers?

I’m interested to hear how you would respond if one of your employees questioned your business model and overall treatment of employees. Should you be deferential in situations like these? Or, if you feel you have reason, do you push back?

Giorgio Serbanescu Serial Entrepreneur Looking For Business Partner

March 4th, 2017

The situation was certainly not handled in this way, being so important character must lead by example.

Henry Daas Coach-Approach Strategic Advisor

March 3rd, 2017

I believe that the CEO of a company has two primary duties - be the head cheerleader and keep the investors happy. The bigger the company, the more magnified these obligations become.

It is NOT unusual for the founder to be the wrong guy to be CEO. I have met and even worked for the CEOs of several fortune 50 companies. While they can be tough and demanding, they are also keenly aware that at all times, they are the FACE of the company. Everything they do will be held up to sometimes unbearable scrutiny.

Sadly, Kalanick failed on both accounts albeit his behaviour was consistent with his reputation. Ironically, had he acted like a CEO - thoughtful and circumspect - I submit the video would never had been posted in the first place!

Perhaps a tad cynical but no doubt accurate...

Andrew Chapman Publishing Entrepreneur and Author

Last updated on March 3rd, 2017

There are too many possibilities with too many potential situations and settings to answer this question singularly. So, I'll only address the situation as it was in the video. If I had the time in the moment, I would've said, "Let's keep the clock running on this trip and go to a nearby cafe so I can hear more of your concerns." If I didn't have time in that moment, I would've offered the same at a near-future time—"Come pick me up, as an official Uber trip on the clock, and we'll go to a Starbucks or whatever."

Sadly, *that* video would've likely never gone viral... but it would've been far more respectful, and Kalanick would've potentially gotten very valuable feedback. It's very critical to get front-line perspectives, especially in a company of that size and scope, and these opportunities don't grow on trees.

Jim Murray Communication Strategist. Writer. Blogger. beBee Brand Ambassador

March 2nd, 2017

I saw that clip last night on the news. If you walk around never expecting to be challenged in this life, you react pretty much the way Kalanick did. He reaction was immature and undiplomatic. But then again, think about who the world's biggest role model is for boorishness and it's somehow understandable. Not acceptable, however.

Bennet Bayer Global CMO, Strategy & Tech Exec Ronin ♦ Mobile, Cloud, ICT/IDC, The IoE & Big Data Business

March 3rd, 2017

Unfortunately, no one had him attend, "executive charm school." The marketing leaders and board should have had the understanding to have him attend and pass media training. Few of us have not had a "failed moments" we would not like to do over. However, in this time of everyone has an opinion the executive needs to know when to engage and when to just listen and bite one's tongue.

Dane Madsen Organizational and Operational Strategy Consultant

March 2nd, 2017

It would have never happened with (most of us) me so I cannot help you. People are the only asset a company has. Treating them in the arrogant and officious manner he has a reputation for is to create a toxic environment. Toxic environments always fail. To the second part of your question, you should always be thoughtful and considerate with the people who you work with because you may be surprised how they get something you missed. Always be deferential. Always knowledge the effort they have made to engage you that subject. Listen to understand their thoughts or concerns. Do not listen to respond (a key problem we have today). Do not feel it important to respond immediately - that is dismissive. That is just a few of a long list of how you lead people, not force them to follow.

Michael McElhenie https://www.beingfirst.com

March 2nd, 2017

Travis was in a challenging situation for sure, yet it was one that exposed his primary weakness, and for lack of a better phrase, this situation exposed his lack of emotional maturity. In every instance when we are exposed to being challenged about our thinking or actions, we have a number of options on how to respond; your question highlights two possibilities: "be deferential" or "push back." Either of these responses would be perfectly fine, but in Travis' case, he acted as if he had no choice and was simply emotionally triggered and acted out of fear and/or anger. As many in the media have said already, Travis lacked emotional intelligence in that moment, or more precisely, Travis lacked emotional awareness and emotional management skills. If Travis had been emotionally aware, he would have seen himself in the ramp up to being triggered by the driver's comments, and Travis would have manage his rising tide of emotions by engaging in, for example, supportive deep breathing and an intentional, internal dialogue (e.g., "this is not a personal attack on me"; "the driver is simply in a bad situation now"; "I can take in this criticism and use it as data"; etc.). Yet, Travis did not do this, so no matter what he did or said, his responses were clouded by his own emotional reactions and therefore ineffective and ultimately embarrassing. In hearing Travis' responses to this situation, he seems to feel deep regret, which is often what all of us would typically feel in such circumstances. My hope for Travis is that this regret is powerful enough to motivate him to do the work to become more emotionally skilled than he is currently. It has been proven scientifically that people can indeed make significant progress within this domain of development; organizations like www.heartmath.org, for example, have tools and resources that significantly assist people like Travis to development EQ and the sub-skills therein. And with support from a coach like myself or someone like me, Travis could significantly accelerate his development. Rather than demonize Travis, I empathize with him and wish him the very best on his growth journey.

Jothi Kumar Bio

March 2nd, 2017

"Thank you for sharing & my pricing team will reach out to him to hear his voice"

1. Acknowlege

2. deflect. So it he can respond better with proper response.

That would be a leader who knows how to handle in situations like these. But it shows how the leader is and his company follows his foot steps. As the stories below show what type of an organization he is running. He never steps up and address the issue.




As founders/leaders we should call for an accountable and responsible company.

BJ Raval A experienced tech founder in geo spatial space

March 3rd, 2017

Allow me to share exactly what I'd have done.

  1. I would have been polite and civil. Period. (To employees, a taxi driver, Uber driver or even a stranger I met on the street, not just as a CEO, but as a human being.
  2. I would have heard him (the Uber driver) out about how much money he is saying he lost. Not just that, I'd have *reeeaaalllyy * listened to him. - Because he was hurting. And because he was hurting, potentially because of me and my policies. I'd have tried to figure out what Uber policies were hurting him (rate changing, surge policies, fare split policies, driver conduct policies, driver rating policies, etc.)
  3. I'd have launched an effort to find out how much prevalent this 'hurt' was if it was because of Uber policies
  4. I'd have tried to find out quantitatively how much we (Uber) were making more as a result of those policies versus if we relaxed those policies in drivers' favor and how much they'd have made more as a percentage of their take home pay and how much that would have affected Uber's earnings as a percentage delta to current earnings
  5. Then I'd have calculated (subjectively) the $ cost of satisfying or making drivers' happy versus how much Uber would be making less compared to now - remember, without these drivers Uber is nothing! It's valuation is directly proportionate to the number of drivers it can recruit. (Note: Uber has this data for 100% of its drivers in #2,#3,#4 and #5
  6. I'd inform my 'masters' (aka VCs on Uber board) that it'd take this amount of $ to make things right by our drivers by changing our policies and we will partially (x%) make it up by attracting and recruiting y% of additional drivers but we'd still lose revenue as a result of these revised policies (maybe/maybe not). (actual calcs are more complicated than that because of the intangibles involved) and then implement revised policies and publicize the hack out of it through my in-house PR spin machine.

I am not a betting man, but if I had to bet, Uber will get more earnings if it treated its drivers' right, futuristic driver less rides not withstanding.

But I'd NEVER EVER slam the door on ANYONE, let alone our Uber drivers because of whom I am so much worth today.

Travis first needs to learn to say his sorry's and thank you's and and express his respect for others. Learning leadership can come later

Darnley Howard President/Principal Consultant, Advansa International

March 3rd, 2017

I'm pretty much in agreement with the previous comments, particularly Michael's and BJ's. I am however concerned that given how far the company has come despite Kalanick's behavior, he may not be sufficiently motivated to change his ways. After all Steve Jobs was known to treat his people badly yet he is now regarded as a great visionary of American business.

Hopefully desire for success in other aspects of life will motivate Kalanick to treat people better.