Photo: Jodie O’Dell/Flickr
It’s great to be the boss, right?Wrong. Twitter CEO Dick Costolo says the job is “psychologically damaging.”
Costolo made the comment in an on-stage interview at Fast Company’s Innovation Uncensored conference in San Francisco with Andreessen Horowitz venture capitalist Ben Horowitz, whom he’s turned to for management advice at times.
At Twitter, Costolo has had to put that advice into practice, reshaping his top management team and quelling turmoil in the ranks.
Here are all the reasons Costolo offered for why the job is hard on the head:
- You must force people to disagree. When Costolo first got to Twitter, “there was a culture that we don’t openly disagree with each other in meetings,” he said. He had to get his managers to either “vocally dissent” or “commit to what we’ve decided.”
- When employees are sad, you cannot sympathize. Managers must “empathise, not sympathize,” Costolo said. When an engineer says, “I’m really sad because I’m not working on project A,” a manager has to honestly say that the project is not a priority for the company.
- Everyone expects you have the answers. “One of the things I’m really good at is knowing that I don’t have to be the smartest person in the room,” Costolo said. “Someone on the team will say, ‘Well, Dick, what do you think?’ And I’ll say, ‘I don’t really have any idea, so you guys are going to have to keep discussing it.'”
- Your employees judge you against past bosses. “Our chief financial officer, Ali Rowghani, reported to Steve Jobs” at Pixar, the animation studio, Costolo said. “I say these things and he looks at me, and I’m sure he’s thinking, ‘That’s not what Steve would have said.'” The upside: “If you take your ego out of it, you can learn a truckload from these guys.”
- And sometimes you just have to give in. “Because we’ve got a really strong senior team now, I try to make sure that I don’t go against the will of the team too frequently,” Costolo said. And if he disagrees with them but decides to go along, “I have to do what I tell my managers and leave the room and commit to that decision.”
- No one’s going to like you. “Managing by trying to be liked is the path to ruin.”
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