India-First-Global-Insights-Analysis -Sharing-PlatformIndia-First-Global-Insights-Analysis -Sharing-Platform

Twitter Co-Founder Jack Dorsey’s Resignation & Leadership Lessons

, March 9, 2022, 0 Comments

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey tweeted he’s stepping down as CEO and sent the entire world into a tizzy. Parag Agrawal (CTO) will be replacing him, he declared in his resignation tweet. The news media world was rife with speculations about what must’ve led to Jack’s resignation. India on the other hand was celebrating the addition of yet another “Indian” CEO of a global firm. While the speculations and celebrations were in order, the contents of Jack’s well-crafted ‘resignation’ letter struck my fancy.twitter-jack-dorsey-leadership-marketexpress-in

In my opinion, it is a beautifully drafted piece of writing which gives us a glimpse of Jack’s leadership philosophy. Mind you, we’re going purely by the written word. We really don’t know whether this in-fact is the talk that he walks. Only his colleagues can tell us whether this letter is a true reflection of his leadership style, or not. My sole objective here is to bring out a few impactful leadership lessons from his resignation letter. Three key takeaways stood out for me as I have personally experienced leaders making these mistakes, day in and day out.

Be prepared to “break away”

Leaders, especially founders, consider the company to be their ‘baby’. On this basis they argue, “How can I handover my baby to someone else?” Those driven by the sense of entrepreneurship argue “What’s the point if I exit as the leader? Isn’t that the very reason why I became an entrepreneur?” Both are valid arguments which a leader or an entrepreneur might present in their defense of not willing to let go the reins. Obsession with the idea which brought them success in the past now blind-sights them from realizing that it’s time for new people and newer ideas. Leaders need to work towards building sustainable businesses which last the test of time and are not dependent on a few individuals, ideas or personalities. A company is much bigger than one great idea and a few individuals. Jack shares his vision very clearly,

“I’ve worked hard to ensure this company can break away from its founding and founders”.

Leaders need to get over the perception that they, and only they, are the best their company could get. What if there is someone more suited and more capable to lead? Jack, himself being a hugely successful CEO for 16 years, accepts that Parag outdid him – “he did it better!” he says. Jack showed us that he’s amongst the rare leaders around who “choose their company over their own ego”

Leaders must understand that the organization is bigger than any individual. Individuals will come and go, but the vision of the organization must flourish and progress. As he says,

“I believe it’s critical a company can stand on its own”

Give space – Let go!

There are numerous instances where leaders officially step down from their position, but linger on as mentors, or in some other capacity. They just can’t let it go! They will hold on to whatever they can grab just to stay in the mix. In this regard, Jack’s ‘complete’ exit is inspiring. Being a co-founder and a CEO for 16 years, Jack’s imposing presence would’ve been an overarching shadow hanging on to Parag’s mind. It’s natural that Parag would’ve gone to Jack for advice. Even his decisions, even though unintentional, might’ve had a subtle stamp of Jack. Jack chose to completely stay away from Parag’s space and give him complete freedom to lead.

“I believe it’s really important to give Parag the space he needs to lead”

It’s a critical lesson for us to learn as leaders. This is a much observed phenomenon post corporate promotions where the incumbent fails to completely let go and handover the reins to the new leader. You think you have handed over the baton, but is your successor still looking over her shoulders all the time? Are you still holding on to the last straws “just to help out”? It’s difficult to let go. You might feel you’re helping. However unknowingly, it might be doing more damage than you could imagine. Your mere presence might inhibit your successor from spreading her wings wide and leading with her full vigour. Let go! Completely.

Trust your decisions to the “bare bones”

The name “Parag” appears 9 times in Jack’s concise letter! He talks about how Parag was chosen as CEO after a rigorous selection process. Jack goes on at length highlighting Parag’s qualities and why he thinks Parag’s well suited to succeed as CEO. Now that the decision has been taken Jack lent Parag his unwavering support,

“My trust in him as our CEO is bone deep” 

How many times we have seen leaders sitting on the fence and being non-committal on critical issues facing business. Either not taking the hard decisions at all, or not committing wholeheartedly to the decisions they’ve taken. There’s no bigger leadership weakness than not trusting your own decisions. Jack is clearly setting the benchmark here for leaders by completely owning his decision,

“…this was my decision and I own it”

How can we expect others to trust us if we do not trust our own decisions? I have seen numerous leaders who take a decision and then get cold feet at the slightest of blips. The recent withdrawal of the much debated farm laws left a sour taste for most of us and raised significant questions on the current leadership. Will we trust the government’s next proposal for reforms? The cloud of doubt will always be there since the government withdrew a reform which they were fully committed to just a few months ago. Parag may or may not turn out to be the right choice after all. We don’t know yet. But, by showing complete confidence and trust in him, Jack has given Parag the best possible chance to succeed.

Leaders need to make tough decisions, and once they do, they need to demonstrate complete, unwavering, and unflinching commitment to those decisions.

Jack has demonstrated appreciable maturity with this step. In the process he has given us some very valuable lessons in leadership. Does he actually walk the talk? Only time will tell. Our purpose here was to learn from what we observe, and hope we have successfully achieved that purpose.