We asked professors from top business schools to examine Elon Musk’s first week on Twitter.
The result was a case study of failed leadership.
Musk’s $44 Billion deal to take Twitter private was completed on October 27th. His first week as CEO has been chaotic.
His first move was to fire four top Twitter executives, including Parag Agrawal (CEO) and Ned Segal (chief financial officer). Many high-ranking managers were also dismissed, and lists were made based on performance reviews to decide who to keep. Some employees started sleeping in the office as their bosses set strict deadlines for new product shipping.
Twitter staff received an email this week confirming there would soon be layoffs and advising them to close their offices temporarily. According to Kali Hays of Insider, the releases began on Thursday night, which was earlier than anticipated.
The chaos is made worse by former and current Twitter employees who use the service to make public their lawsuits, layoffs, and complaints.
Although Musk’s actions have been criticized, James Hayton, Warwick Business School professor of innovation and entrepreneurship, said that it is not unusual to take drastic measures when a company isn’t performing to its potential. He said that Twitter’s performance is lower than its larger peers who have cut jobs or frozen hiring.
Hayton said that you would fire the CEO in such a scenario. “You must take control and take over the organization. This isn’t easy if you don’t let go of senior executives. It is essential to centralize control if you want to make rapid, unpopular changes that will benefit your organization.
He said, “This will be a shock, but it is better to get the band-aid off quickly than to let things deteriorate.”
Musk’s management approach is “not right for leadership or managing” William Klepper, a Columbia Business School management professor, would describe it as “a case study in failed leadership.”
Musk was described by him as a “change agent” and “genius” but “not right” for leadership or management.
He cited the complicated relationship between Musk, Twitter’s fired executives, and April when the billionaire offered to buy the company for $ 44 billion. Then he retracted his offer. Twitter sued Musk for his indecision, and he agreed in October to purchase the company at its original price.
Klepper stated that the six-month-long saga proved “his word was not his bond” and that Musk’s decisions were “just too erratic for any weight to be placed on them.”
“His word is just externalizing his current thinking. I don’t believe there’s credibility to what he says.” He said that he made this clear by the way he handled the Twitter relationship.
Klepper finds Musk’s autocratic style to be too harsh for constructive criticism.
He said, “Now, a lot of people admire that because they come across as strong command, control type of leader. And I can understand when testosterone is flowing. It might appeal to people.” It doesn’t have the organizational health I consider vital over time.
Musk’s most prestigious job title? Chief innovation officer
Klepper believes Musk would be a better “chief innovation officer” for his conglomerate, which includes Twitter. He should hire strong leaders and managers to be in the top jobs.
Hayton believes Musk can lead directly, while Musk can hire top talent to help him execute his big visions, such as SpaceX.
Musk said it was unfair to assume Twitter would die after a week as CEO. However, he also stated that in the beginning, “things were, of course, being turned upside-down.”
He said that his other businesses had a clear path and strategy and were very successful. “I don’t believe there’s any reason for them to believe that the new Twitter will be unstable once they have established what it looks like and how it will operate.”
However, employees must trust their leaders and have stability if they want to stay.
Klepper advises Musk: “You shouldn’t be the CEO of your business.” While you should be hiring managers for the functional parts of the organization, you can also sit on top of this conglomerate and share your knowledge with many people who know how your brain works. You could use that knowledge constructively in each company.