Twitter CEO says great leaders don't worry about making friends

At TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, Dick Costolo spent 10 minutes explaining that leadership comes from not worrying what people think. And he didn't mention Twitter once.

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco. Dan Farber/CNET

SAN FRANCISCO -- It's been said recently that Twitter is famous for being "tight-lipped."

If so, it must be because of the example set by its CEO, Dick Costolo . At TechCrunch Disrupt on Monday, Costolo spent 10 much-anticipated minutes on stage talking about his secrets of great leadership. And he didn't mention Twitter a single time.

Instead, Costolo gave an impassioned lecture, urging current and would-be tech company leaders in the room to lead by caring "deeply, deeply about your people while not worrying or even caring what they think about you."

If this was Management 101, it was really the Cliff's Notes version. It's hard to imagine that Costolo didn't drink a few extra cups of coffee before taking the stage, as he powered through his presentation at a pace few could keep up with.

Besides imploring his audience to care about their people but not care what they think, Costolo also urged leading by being forthright. "Don't lead...trying to be liked," he said. Communicate "with them based on clarity, not based on I hope they perceive this in a positive way or feeling good."

Costolo acknowledged that there are limitless ways to lead successfully, and paraphrased Pinterest CEO Ben Silberman, saying that the best leaders in the tech industry all seem to possess one ultra-impressive superpower. So, Costolo, concluded, "I thought this was amazing insight...so when I implore you to find your way to be successful...find your individual superpower [and] be successful in your own way."

 

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