Twitter CEO Dick Costolo: ‘Managing by trying to be liked is the path to ruin’

Dick Costolo

Dick Costolo

SAN FRANCISCO – According to Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, leaders should prize clarity over likability when it comes to guiding a company.

When he took the stage at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco today, Costolo said that managers have to deal with a critical paradox when it comes to keeping a team together, and have to fight the temptation to want to be liked.

“As a leader, you need to care deeply, deeply about your people, while not worrying, or even really caring, about what they think about you,” Costolo said. “Managing by trying to be liked is the path to ruin.”

According to Costolo, instead of trying to make your employees like you, your focus should be on dealing with them in as forthright a manner as possible.

“The way you build trust with your team and your people is by being forthright and clear with them from day one,” Costolo said.

His next suggestion, which seemed to be aimed directly at the current obsession with Steve Jobs, is not to obsess over copying the examples of famous leaders.

“The reality is, these people are the same people they were ten years ago, and are going to be ten years from now, when it may not work at all for them. The very same person that they are today that’s lionized, may be frowned upon ten years from now, or was frowned upon ten years earlier,” he said.

“If you try to lead in some way that isn’t true to who you are, they will see it, and they will see through it, and you will lose the trust of the team.”

The advice seems to be working for Costolo, who holds a 96% recommendation rate on GlassDoor, reflecting the sentiment of Twitter employees.