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What kind of leaders does Twitter need?

Profile photo: Twitter CEO Elon Musk
Profile photo: Twitter CEO Elon Musk

If not Musk, who would it be?

Since Twitter CEO Elon Musk announced this week that he is actively looking for a new leader to run Twitter, many have been pondering this question.

In a Twitter poll created by Musk, where more than 10 million respondents said he should resign, Musk made the statement. Musk then tweeted that he would quit once he found someone “stupid enough to take the job.”

I will resign as CEO as soon as I find someone foolish enough to take the job! After that, I will just run the software & servers teams.

It’s one of many twists and turns in the chaotic restructuring since Musk took over Twitter in late October, a period that has seen mass layoffs and resignations, advertisers fleeing, policy changes and reversals, and the suspension of some journalists’ accounts.

Andrew Miller, chief growth officer at Interbrand North America, a global brand consultancy, said Musk’s management style is “tear down first, build later.”

Atypical transitions

The search for a new Twitter CEO this time has left many wondering who is likely to be competent. Musk will remain Twitter’s boss, and the task of turning around a troubled, chronically underperforming company will be daunting.

Andy Wu, an assistant professor of tech entrepreneurship and strategy at Harvard Business School, said: “The risk of being fired or forced to resign is considerable. So the person has to be able to accept the consequences. ”

Musk is also the CEO of the electric car company Tesla, and there are reports that he plans to be Twitter’s CEO for only a few months. In recent weeks, Tesla investors have called on Musk to spend more time on Tesla.

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Some industry watchers believe Musk’s poll is intended to prepare the public for a planned Twitter leadership handover.

Richard Hagberg, a leadership coach and psychologist who has worked with Silicon Valley CEOs and entrepreneurs, said: “I think he’s ready to do it, and he wants to do it in a dramatic style.”

Damage control

Hagerberg added that he would never admit defeat, but he might apologize for the problems with Tesla’s board and the poor PR he personally caused affecting the Tesla brand. ”

In addition to Tesla and Twitter, Musk is the CEO of SpaceX, a company that makes satellites and rockets.

Whoever takes over as Twitter’s CEO must share Musk’s vision for the company and accept his involvement. Wu noted that Musk has a history of reluctance to delegate power to his other companies.

Wu said: “Elon Musk should have been just an investor in Tesla, he was not actually the founder, but he couldn’t help it, he had to be the CEO. If that is any precedent, the situation now is that he prefers to cling to power. ”

Some observers say Musk’s obsession with making headlines and causing public buzz will also make it harder for him to quit Twitter altogether. Musk is expected to become Twitter’s top influencer in January, surpassing former U.S. President Barack Obama, and the Obama President account now has 130 million followers, ranking first.

Wu said: “Elon Musk certainly knows his public image, and [Twitter] is his way to directly shape his public image. So it was especially difficult for him to quit. ”

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Whether Musk continues to be involved in Twitter’s day-to-day operations or becomes a quiet boss, his potential CEO successor faces the heavy lifting of cutting expenses, increasing revenue, and putting Twitter on the path to success.

Wu pointed out that a calmer, more calm temperament than Musk would be more helpful.

“The cuts they’re going through at the moment are all financially necessary, so we need someone who is ready for the role,” he said.

Some industry watchers point out that the successor could come from Musk’s inner circle, such as Twitter’s former CEO Jack Dorsey or venture capitalist David Sacks, while others speculate that the successor could be an experienced technology executive from outside, such as Sheryl Sandberg, the former chief operating officer of Facebook (now known as Meta).

Inspire a higher sense of purpose

Whoever succeeds as Twitter’s CEO must evoke a higher sense of purpose among employees.

Miller, an Inter brand in North America, said: “They need to believe in a mission that goes beyond everyday reality, otherwise this style won’t work because you’re demanding far more from your employees than managers in other companies.” This must come from the heart of the employee. ”

Musk has a successful track record of revolving Tesla employees around the tram’s climate change solution, inspiring SpaceX employees with the dream of landing on Mars. Musk also tried to rally Twitter employees around the idea of expanding free speech on Twitter, with mixed results.

Hagerberg classifies Musk as a “visionary evangelist,” defined as a leader who has a vision for the future but can also be arrogant. It’s hard to imagine Twitter having two “visionary evangelists” at the same time. Either way, observers say, the new CEO needs to do some work to satisfy an already volatile workforce.

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“If you want people to support you, you need to understand how to systematically convince them of what you want to do,” Haggerberg said.

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