Colin Huang


Institutional Affiliation

















Colin Huang


Colin Huang, who also goes by the name Huang Zheng, is one of the renowned global leaders. He is the chairman and CEO of Pinduoduo, an online discounter company, which is one of the largest e-commerce sites in China. As of 3rd March 2020, Huang was estimated to be worth $17.4 billion (#7 Colin Zheng Huang, n.d.). Huang’s background business success is interesting. His upbringing as a son of illiterate factory workers coupled with his dramatic rise to the thirteenth richest person in China is an inspiration to many (Vashishta, 2019). His astronomical rise to prominence through significant business achievements renders him an important business leader worth analyzing. The paper aims to employ the trait theories and the leadership skills concepts to assess Colin Huang to promote an understanding of his leadership strengths and weaknesses to prompt recommendations on how he can improve his skills to further enhance his success.


Huang’s tremendous achievements in a short period of time create multiple assumptions. The outstanding performances that Colin Huang has achieved in his company are founded on the assumption that a person must have leadership skills to become a successful leader. Müller, Geraldi, and Turner (2011) opine that having leadership skills is a critical factor for leadership and organizational success (p. 2). Often, leadership is viewed as central to effectively leading and guiding people towards the realization of the mission and vision of an organization. The understanding of the correlation between leadership and success leads to a notion that Huang has excellent leadership skills.

The unimaginable success achieved by Huang in the running of Pinduoduo postulates leadership experience. According to Nichols (2016), leadership experience affects leadership desirability that is critical in determining leadership outcomes (p. 658). Leadership experience builds confidence, enhances a sense of responsibility, sharpens problem skills, and bolsters an individual’s learning environment. Moreover, having experience in leadership promotes one’s management skills, which are critical to increase productivity. The assumption that effective leadership is associated with experience leads to the conclusion that Huang’s distinguished leadership is prompted by his long-term experience as a leader.

Analysis of the leader

The trait theory provides is a fundamental framework for assessing Colin Huang’s leadership capabilities. An individual’s distinct skillsets are fundamental to determining their leadership efficiency (Leadership: Process and organisations). Huang’s ability to start a new company and make it successful portrays that he is intelligent, insightful, and self-confident to try new things. Huang also portrays significant Charisma. Nawaz and Khan (2016) define charisma as a significant revolutionary force that develops a new orientation among followers that are endowed to their leader whom they perceive as having magical or supernatural powers and capabilities (p. 2). The dramatic success gained by Pinduoduo within a short period of time indicates Huang’s confidence in starting a new venture and helping others to be confident.

However, an analysis of Huang from the trait perspective suggests a lack of perseverance and resilience as his greatest challenge.  After working for Google as an Engineer for three years, Huang got tired of the several trips he made from the US to China and back forth resulting in him quitting (Vashishta, 2019). Padayachee (2019) defines perseverance and resilience as the ability to overcome adverse challenges and the capacity to adapt well and keep going including in times of calamities (p. 6). Leaders face multiple challenges and stressful events in their endeavors and thus, having perseverance and resilience is fundamental for leaders.

Leadership skills concepts also provide a fundamental pathway to assessing Huang’s leadership competencies. His ability to build a successful business indicates that he has human, conceptual, and technical skills that are fundamental for one to be considered an effective leader (Skills approach to understanding leadership, n.d.). As of 2018 July, Huangs 47% stake at the company was valued at $14 billion, positioning him as the thirteenth richest individual in China (Huang Zheng, 2018).  Huang’s ability to establish a new online company from scratch to its current status as one of the most successful organizations globally is an apparent indication of his excellent human, conceptual, and technical skills.

However, Huang’s perception of the world portrays a defection in conceptual skills. According to Vashishta (2019), Huang is reported to have articulated that he has never thought of changing the world, and that rather all he focuses on is making contributions. Aga, Noorderhaven, and Vallejo (2016) postulate that looking at things from a transformative angle is a critical success factor in leadership (p. 806). Transformational leadership is critical for a leader to succeed as it promotes idealized influence, stimulates intellectual thoughts, inspires and motivates workers, and focuses on supporting, encouraging and coaching workers. Huang’s inability to foster change is a significant weakness.

Examples to Illustrate What the Leader Has or Doesn’t

Huang has distinguished leadership skills. He is a computer science graduate from Zhejiang University and the University of Wisconsin, Madison (Huang Zheng, 2018).   As learned in class, leadership skills is the ability of an individual to employ their skills and competencies to realize certain goals and objectives (Skills approach to understanding leadership, n.d.). It means that one not only has to have leadership skills but also ensure that they apply them in executing their roles and mandates. Huang’s ability to employ the knowledge and skills he acquired from his Bachelors and Master’s Degree in computer science to develop various online business proves that he is an ardent leader.

Moreover, Huang has excellent teamwork skills. Huang is renowned for having the ability to assemble a network of great friends including NetEase’s Ding Lei, BBK Technologies Duan Yongping, and SF Express’s Wang Wei (Huang Zheng).  Human skills, embracing the ability to work with others and direct groups, is necessary for successful leadership (Skills approach to understanding leadership, n.d.). Agarwal and Adjirackor (2016) argue that teamwork embraces collaboratively working with a group of individuals to achieve a particular goal (p. 40). The importance of teamwork among a leader and followers in the successful running of a business cannot be understated. It motivates unity in the workplace, improves efficiency and productivity, and promotes work synergy that is fundamental to realizing success. The successful running of Pinduoduo through a team of workers indicates that Huang’s is ardent in human skills.

Huang’s ability to successful establishment and run new ventures epitomizes technical and conceptual skills. While technical skills is the knowledge and ability of an individual to use specialized competencies and analytic skills to perform certain types of work, conceptual skills focuses on working with ideas (Skills approach to understanding leadership, n.d.). Upon his return from China, Huang started Ouku, his first ecommerce site before selling it when it picked up and establishing other websites including Leki and Xunmeng (Vashishta, 2019). The knowledge, experience, lessons, and profits he reaped from the ventures enabled him to started Pinduoduo, his most successful site. Huang’s ability to employ his computer science knowledge and skills and his experience working for Microsoft and opening websites reflects outstanding technical and conceptual skills.

What the Leader Misses and How it Can be Solved

Transformative skills are arguably the most significant virtue that is not visible in Huang’s case. As aforementioned, Huang is reported to have said in one of his interviews that he does not view that changing anything in the world is necessary but instead measures should be taken to bring improvements (Vashishta, 2019). Aga, Noorderhaven, and Vallejo (2016) postulates that having transformational skills is necessary for a leader to bring meaningful changes within an organization (p. 806). With Huang being highly-educated, trained, and skilled in computer science, his inability to bring new development and instead focus on websites that have already been developed by other companies such as reveals he lacks transformational capabilities.

An emphasis on technical skillset can help Huang solve transformational skills deficiency. Technical skills embraces having specialized competencies, analytic abilities, and the capacity to employ specialized tools and techniques to solve problems, bring improvements, or innovate new things (Skills approach to understanding leadership, n.d.). Giovanita and Mangundjaya (2017) posit that a lack of commitment and willingness to bring changes is a major hindrance for leaders to bring transformation to their organizations and the world at large (p. 14). With Huang having excellent computer science skills, a more emphasis on his technical skills can enable him be part of people bring new innovations and developments to the world of technology.

Comparing Evidence about the Leader with Theory

Huang’s leadership skills portray elements of the trait theory. The approach is based on the assumption that traits come from inside and have an internal source of origin making a person to be just the way they are (Leadership: Process and organisations). Vashishta (2019) mentions that professors at the University of Wisconsin were greatly impressed by Huang’s exceptional abilities during his period as a student at the institution, and recommended major technology firms to accord him an employment opportunity. It shows that Huang was naturally intelligent. His ability to get a placement opportunity in Microsoft, an entity that focuses on a pool of talented individuals, coupled with his ability to establish successful online ventures is a perfect portrayal of innate intelligence. The massive success realized by Huang can be linked to his intelligence. The assertion is correlated with the trait theory that posits a person’s trait as the source of leadership efficiency (Leadership: Process and organisations). The trait concept provides an understanding of the contribution of personal attributes to leadership success. However, its exclusion of the role of skills and competencies renders it ineffective, given their importance in promoting leadership efficiency.

A comparison of Huang leadership skills and the skills approach reveals a correlation. Huang’s success is motivated by his ability to use his computer science knowledge and skills, to work with teams, and to use his ideas to develop successful websites. His leadership skills are leader-centered and less focused on personality. Huang was born to parents that were uneducated factory workers (Vashishta, 2019). It indicates that his leadership success is not prompted by the traits he was born with but rather the skillsets he acquired through education and experience. His leadership skills are related to the skills approach. The framework focuses more on what a leader can do as opposed to their personality (Skills approach to understanding leadership, n.d.). While the skills approach promotes the optimal application of a leaders’ knowledge and competencies, its failure to pay attention to personality renders leadership less efficient.

Recommendations on How the Leader Can Develop Based on the Findings

A change in personality is fundamental to make Huang become an even more successful leader. Vashishta (2019) mentions that while Huang has generally optimized his intelligence and computer and technology skillsets to develop a robust online enterprise, he does not believe in transformational leadership. According to Simonet, Tett, Foster, Angelback, and Bartlett (2018), combining various desired personality traits can resulted in valuable impacts (p. 2). Therefore, an emphasis on his knowledge and competencies while paying due attention to transformational skills can enable Huang enhance his leadership skills to not only become more successful in running his Pinduoduo Company but also to come up with new technology-driven innovations to transform the world.

Taking part in Core Leadership Practice (CLP) can also be helpful in enabling Huang to further develop his leadership skillset. Vashishta (2019) states that Huang believes in bringing improvements rather than change. Participating in CLP can enable Huang to gain self-awareness that it is possible to bring significant positive change to the world. Hackworth, Steel, Cooksey, DePalma, and Kahn (2018), believe that taking part in CLD can enable an individual to boost their confidence and self-awareness, which is fundamental to enhance strategic, operations, and relational skills and to build a supportive network to improve leadership efficiency (p. 5). CPL can prompt the development of confidence that is desirable for Huang to focus on technological innovations.






























#7 Colin Zheng Huang. (n.d.). Forbes. Retrieved from

Aga, D. A., Noorderhaven, N., & Vallejo, B. (2016). Transformational leadership and project success: The mediating role of team-building. International Journal of Project Management34(5), 806-818.

Agarwal, S., & Adjirackor, T. (2016). Impact of teamwork on organizational productivity in some selected basic schools in the Accra metropolitan assembly. European Journal of Business, Economics and Accountancy4(6), 40-52.

Giovanita, D., & Mangundjaya, W. L. (2017). Transformational Leadership vs Change Self-Efficacy and Its Impact on Affective Commitment to Change. J. Mgt. Mkt. Review2(4), 13-18.

Grigorian, G. (2019). Pinduoduo is now the fourth largest internet company in China. Pandaily. Retrieved from

Hackworth, J., Steel, S., Cooksey, E., DePalma, M., & Kahn, J. A. (2018). Faculty Members’ Self-Awareness, Leadership Confidence, and Leadership Skills Improve after an Evidence-Based Leadership Training Program. The Journal of pediatrics199, 4-6.

Huang Zheng. (2018). Week in China. Retrieved from

Müller, R., Geraldi, J., & Turner, J. R. (2011). Relationships between leadership and success in different types of project complexities. IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management59(1), 1-38.

Nawaz, Z. A. K. D. A., & Khan_ PhD, I. (2016). Leadership theories and styles: A literature review. Leadership16(1), 1-7.

Nichols, A. L. (2016). What do people desire in their leaders? The effect of leadership experience on desired leadership traits. Leadership & Organization Development Journal.

Padayachee, K. (2019). The relationship of perseverance and leader motivation to employee performance in a stressful sales environment (Doctoral dissertation, University of Pretoria).

Simonet, D. V., Tett, R. P., Foster, J., Angelback, A. I., & Bartlett, J. M. (2018). Dark-side personality trait interactions: Amplifying negative predictions of leadership performance. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies25(2), 1-18.

Skills approach to understanding leadership ppt.

Vashishta, Y. (2019). Colin Huang: From son of a factory worker to the CEO of a billion dollar company ‘Pinduoduo.’ YTS,