Recent events have demonstrated, conclusively, that Elon Musk is a lousy leader. Understanding why can help you improve your own leadership skills.
We’ll get there. But we need to prepare:
Older readers will remember the Gabor sisters who were, it was said, famous for being famous.
Twitter is like that too: The only reason to pay attention to it is that many people pay attention to it.
Even before the takeover Twitter was a statistically questionable straw poll combined with a Dumb-Ass Statement of the Day competition. Its accelerating descent into a free-speech absolutist utopia is an excellent argument for ignoring it altogether.
Which leads to this: You’re known by the company you keep. Twitter depends entirely on advertising revenue. Expect quite a few of its advertisers to care that their good names are being tarred by Twitter’s metaphorical brush. They’ll shift their marketing to other, less unsavory platforms, just as Adidas had the good sense to sever its association with the intellectually barren entity known as “Ye.”
And oh, by the way Mr. Ye, Prince did the “formerly known as” thing earlier and better. Just sayin’.
Immediately upon Musk completing its takeover, Twitter’s vermin population demonstrated its ability to quickly and efficiently scale up.
Many well-intentioned but short-sighted progressive tribespeople were horrified. To them I must quote Blazing Saddles’ Hedley Lamarr: Please rest your sphincters. Those tweeting bigotry are already bigots. So are those who read and agree with them. It’s like blowing oxygen at already flaming gasoline, without adding more gas. Nobody’s convincing anyone.
But … isn’t hate speech a problem? “Hate speech” is a phrase chosen by the predictably inept Progressive messaging machine as its rallying cry. It’s a mistake: Hate speech has been protected speech since National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie.
What isn’t and shouldn’t be protected is incitement. To the extent Twitter becomes an incitement free-for-all, it will become one of the biggest litigation targets of all time.
One more point on the free-speech front: Yes, Twitter will likely restore POTUS #45’s access to the platform, but if you don’t like him – especially if you don’t like him – this is brilliant. POTUS #45 now has two alternatives, and it’s Hobson’s choice. He can either continue to post his “thoughts” on TruthSocial, at which point never mind, or he can resume posting on Twitter, thereby damaging his investment in TruthSocial.
More context: In the late 19th century wealthy patrons like William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer bought distressed newspapers to ensure their financial stability. (Yes, this grossly oversimplifies the history of the journalism industry. What do you want in a one-sentence summary?)
It’s déjà vu all over again. Rich Guy Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post in 2013, providing financial stability. Likewise Rich Guy Glen Taylor, who acquired the local Minneapolis/St. Paul newspaper, the Star Tribune, in 2014.
So now, Elon Musk owns Twitter, social media’s financial Wile E. Coyote. Isn’t this just another Rich Guy subsidizing a news outlet?
Not entirely. WashPo and the Strib are, unambiguously, content providers. The Muskian Twitter, in contrast, is a publishing platform, a very different bird.
Bob’s last word: Getting back to you and what out of all this is applicable to you in your role as a leader, it’s how Elon Musk has demonstrated that he’s a lousy leader that you should pay attention to.
When someone takes over management of an organization the worst thing they can do is make decisions.
Ignorance is a poor foundation for choosing a course of action. Deciding anything before getting a handle on What’s Going On In There pretty much guarantees bad outcomes.
Like Twitter being abandoned by many of its advertisers, as explained above. Musk driving customers away because he hasn’t fully thought through Twitter’s business model? Not smart.
Add this: Twitter, like all organizations, depends on the dedication and good will of talented staff. Announcing draconian layoffs before getting even the slightest whiff of a hint as to who is worth retaining pretty much ensures that those most worth retaining will be the first to bail.
It’s a problem for leaders who think they’re the smartest person in the room – they figure they’re the only one in the room smart enough to be worth listening to. And so they listen only to themselves, failing to understand that just because they’re smarter than anyone else, that doesn’t mean they’re smarter than everyone else.
On CIO.com’s CIO Survival Guide: “The successful CIO’s trick to mastering politics.” As long-time KJR readers know, relationships outlive transactions. Here’s a fresh take on the subject.