Twitter is a Fish Rotting From the Head: Here’s Why Elon Musk’s Approach to Leadership is Not Only Offensive, but Costly
By Audrey McGuckin, CEO, WOTW -
I always say, “The fish rots from the head,” and at Twitter the fish appears to be rotting quite rapidly. There is a huge cost of this outdated, offensive approach to leadership, and Elon Musk is not seeing the long -term ramifications.
As someone who has worked with executive leaders for the past 30 years, the news of Elon Musk’s demands of Twitter employees is completely unacceptable. It’s no wonder why they are leaving in droves. Asking loyal employees to work “extremely hardcore” is completely against what the leaders of the majority of the large Fortune 100 companies are doing today. Even with the human story aside for a moment, the financial losses of Elon’s leadership approach are tremendous:
Consider the Costs:
- It can cost between 30% to 500% a position’s salary to replace an employee. Keep in mind Twitter employees are probably in the top percentage of pay so this alone is quite costly (especially when hundreds of employees leave at once).
- In Mercer's 2022 Global Talent Trends Study, they reported that “highly energized employees are more likely to work for a company that delivers on total well-being, has tackled organizational complexity, and has an inclusive culture.” Asking them to work hardcore hours and give up their lives is not going to retain the best talent.
- Companies with above-average diversity produce a greater proportion of revenue from innovation (45% of total) than from companies with below average diversity (26%).” (Forbes) Maintaining employees holds on to diversity, Elon’s approach is only going to attract the talent that need the job or are willing to give up everything. That to me does not sound like a diversity approach to leadership.
- Women have left the workforce in droves over the past two years and it’s hiring the bottom line. For every 10% increase in gender diversity, it was reported that earnings before interest and taxes rose in public companies by a glaring 3.5% (McKinsey & Company). Adding more demands to burnt out women leaders isn’t going to give you the returns you need.
Let’s say his approach was his way of trimming down the team without having to do layoffs. Still costly. Offices are closed for a few days. Few to none are getting work done right now, and the ramifications of this trauma being inflicted on the Twitter workforce will stick around for a long time. After all, effective leadership is about building trust, and without trust in a leader the employee engagement and operational efficiency declines.
The CEO is the leader. The head of the ship. They set the tone and bad leadership should be held accountable. But what does that look like?
Great leadership includes:
- Being self aware and leading with Empathy
- Believing in the value of your employees and the high cost to replace them.
- Taking the helm of development programs and initiatives.
- Teaching employees new skills and leading by example.
- Increasing employee engagement and enrolling them in programs that up-level their skills.
- Supporting the growth of employees for the betterment of the company and all who work there.
- Creating and supporting a diverse workplace.
- Creating value for your shareholders (and engaged employees are a huge part of that value!)
The research behind this does not lie. It’s only by holding leaders and ourselves accountable that we can create successful businesses that will last for generations to come.
How are you holding your leaders accountable? What kind of feedback are you seeing from leaders? What kind of companies do you want to build and work for in the future?
My hope is that Elon’s approach inspires us all to rise up and be more demanding of healthy work lives. To demand that our leaders lead with dignity. And to all the leaders currently doing that (I know many of you) keep it up.
If you’re interested in transforming your leadership or organization, schedule a meeting with our Chief Client Officer, Erica Jossim. We’d love to help you.