The Man From FCPA has certainly not been shy about calling out Uber Technologies for its miss-steps, nefarious actions, and general lack of anything like an ethical culture. Frankly, it seems surprising the company has been the success which garnered it the headlines for an innovative business. However, Uber has been trying to clean up its act and The Man From FCPA wants to tip his (compliance) hat to Uber for those efforts.
The company has hired Frances Frei as head of leadership. Frei took an indefinite leave as professor of services management from Harvard Business School to take the position at Uber. Her role is to teach management skills at all levels of the company, teach the same group how to work as a team and lead an effort on business strategy. She is also unofficially the head cheerleader for the organization.
In one of her earliest training efforts, Frei is seeking to get the company’s more than 3000 managers trained on leadership. She believes that many were promoted without be given sufficient training on this key area. In other words, they were thrown into the deep end of the pool without sufficient resources or support. Frei is also developing an entirely new leadership training regime. Apparently, managers are now being held accountable for their leadership actions or inactions.
Frei believes the breakneck speed of growth at the company contributed to the lack of teamwork. It might seem counter-intuitive but at Uber, being a good team member apparently slowed employees down. Further senior executives focused primarily on their personal relationship with the former CEO Travis Kalanick and not on creating or working in an environment collaborating with each other.
Her role around business strategy at this point seems to be dealing with problems from the past. Of course, the role of former CEO Kalanick is still in flux particularly that the company has now hired Dara Khosrowshahi as its new CEO. Whatever her final role is, Frei is certainly in the middle of one of the great academic stories of recent memory in the business world.