Twitter’s new boss has some extremely large shoes to fill

Twitter's new boss has some extremely large shoes to fill

Love it or hate, there’s no getting away from it…Twitter is a phenomenon that has become a staple part of everyday life.

It follows news, facilitates debate about the news and, last month, made the news when its boss, Jack Dorsey, who co-founded the social media platform in 2006, announced he will be stepping down next year and handing over to the new CEO, Parag Agarwal.

In an email to staff, Dorsey wrote that after 16 years at the company, it was time to leave. “There’s a lot of talk about the importance of a company being ‘founder-led.’ I believe that’s severely limiting and a single point of failure. I’ve worked hard to ensure this company can break away from its founding and founders.”

While Dorsey’s departure has caused a stir, he’s not the first big name from the high-tech world to walk away from the top job, some might say prematurely.  Many of the big shots who are household names, such as Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, have moved on to be succeeded by far more low-key personalities – and their businesses have flourished.

The challenge now for Twitter’s new CEO is whether he can be as successful a leader as his predecessor. Interestingly, however, the likelihood is that the future success of the firm will still depend, to a large extent, on Dorsey’s tenure.

According to American business and lifestyle coach, Tony Robbins, great leadership is servant leadership. He goes on to define servant leadership as “someone who’s looking to influence others to serve the greater good.”  In this, they are not only looking for an outcome that benefits themselves – but one that proves valuable to other people and the wider community at large.

Dorsey, as a visionary in the tech world, has displayed many of the qualities listed by Robbins, having always passionately believed that tech can bring about world peace and international prosperity. Sadly, Twitter’s history shows us that it can also be divisive when it’s used in a malign way. Only time will tell if Dorsey has been able to embed the culture of success through great leadership ready for those who are now preparing to take up the reigns.

According to Forbes, great leaders must be the sort of role models who incentivise others into leadership and show those coming through the ranks that their growth is important by developing a coaching culture to enable them to learn.  They also say that encouraging staff to lead – at everything from an in-house presentation to a major project – helps in the demystifying of leadership, making it a natural part of professional development.

Those of us in leadership roles – albeit at the smaller end of the spectrum – will agree that continuous personal learning involves both celebrating success and allowing people the room to fail.  After all, they can’t hit the ball out of the park, unless they’re given a bat.

Having taken over as CEO of Freshwater in 2019, after working closely with Steve Howell for years, who had the vision to create a dynamic UK communications agency, I understand the huge responsibility that comes with succeeding the founder of the business. It’s daunting but exciting in equal measures. You have something to build on, but it’s also important to carve your own path and find your own leadership style.

And as for Dorsey, well, he’s still only 45 and already worth in the region of $12 billion. He has other business interests of course, notably digital payments company Square, and, while he could turn off his laptop and head for the golf course tomorrow, I have a suspicion that he’ll be leading the way for some time yet.

This article was written by our chief executive, Angharad Neagle, and featured in the Western Mail on 13 December 2021