Twitter CEO Costolo Steps Down – Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Learn From His Departure
On June 11, 2015, Twitter announced CEO Dick Costolo was stepping down effective July 1, 2015. Twitter co-founder and current Square CEO Jack Dorsey would temporarily step into the CEO role until a permanent replacement could be found. While Twitter streams filled with congratulatory tweets (and snide remarks), it is important for today’s startup founders and wantrepreneurs to take a lesson from the challenges Mr. Costolo faced during his time as CEO. If you’re attempting to lead your own startup team, consider the following:
– You can’t please everyone all the time, nor should you even try. Like Dick Costolo faced growing challenges to his authority from agitator investors and armchair quarterbacks, you too will face challenges to your leadership and visions for the future. Others will offer feedback on your company or suggest tweaks to your product. It is important to listen to the musings of others, but then accept it for what it is: feedback. You are not obligated to accept and integrate feedback; it is your company and you know your business best. Be prepared to stay the course you have set for your company regardless of the input you receive from those on the sidelines.
– Beware the rallying of the troops behind your back. Just as Mr. Costolo faced growing legions of armchair quarterbacks questioning his vision, you might face challenges from your teammates as you attempt to scale your company. Rather than ignoring the sentiments others are expressing, use their questioning as an opportunity to build team camaraderie and growth planning. Brainstorm with your team regarding their feedback and use their input to lay out a vision for your company’s future. When you listen to your employees and value their input, you encourage company loyalty. Don’t give the natives the opportunity to grow restless; instead turn their feedback into future planning.
– Know what your company does well and continue to build upon your strengths, but also don’t negate the potential of competitors. No matter how successful your startup becomes, there will likely always be someone who thinks they can iterate upon your idea and build a better product. Maintain an awareness of your competition, track their movements, and don’t ever believe that being first to market is enough to sustain leadership in your category.
Dick Costolo led Twitter admirably in the face of growing challenges to his leadership. He led with dignity and grace while continuing to build an iconic brand. If today’s entrepreneurs learn anything from his time at Twitter, it should be that leading with grace under pressure is a trait that will always stand you in good stead. Anyone can be a brash and ballsy founder; it takes a leader with real integrity to take the high road when others are attempting to throw you in the gutter.
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