New Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino just taught a master class in how to manage conflict and work together.
Twitter was bleeding out.
It was only a matter of weeks after Elon Musk had taken over as CEO, and several of the company’s biggest advertisers had paused spending. This meant millions of potential lost revenue. Something had to change.
Outside of her industry, Yaccarino was a relative unknown. But media executives knew her as a relationship builder, a smart and savvy communicator. She had steadily climbed the ladder at NBC Universal, most recently serving as chairperson of global advertising and partnerships. And she was proving extremely helpful to Musk.
In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Musk was asked exactly how his “courtship” and hiring of Yaccarino went down.
“We had conversations over a number of months, just relating to advertising,” said Musk. “And then Linda felt that it would be very helpful for the advertisers to see me in person, so [she] invited me down to a conference in Miami, which was very helpful.”
In Miami, Musk says he met with advertisers personally to assure them that Twitter was changing for the good. He explained the steps that the platform had taken to address concerns about hate speech, scammers, and spammers. And he had the chance to elaborate on some of his more controversial opinions.
In essence, Musk said Yaccarino got the job because she:
- Listened first and kept an open mind.
- Was helpful to conflicting parties.
- Facilitated meaningful conversation.
This story is a major case study in emotional intelligence, which includes the ability to manage relationships and work together. Let’s take a closer look at Yaccarino’s actions, and see what business leaders everywhere can learn from them. (If you like this article, you might be interested in my free seven-day course, which delivers a similar daily lesson to your inbox, to help you and your team build emotional intelligence.)
How to use emotional intelligence to work together
“Have I shot myself in the foot with tweets multiple times?” Musk asked in a recent BBC interview. “Yes. I think I should not tweet after 3 a.m.”
Musk realizes that he has often caused a divide between himself and others–including potential advertisers–not only because of what he says, but also because of how he says it.
He often speaks in extremes. And since Twitter encourages short-form written communication, it’s easy for readers to misconstrue points, to miss out on subtleties and nuance, or simply to misread tone. For example, if you ever watch an interview with Musk, he seems like a completely different person from what he portrays on Twitter.
That’s why Yaccarino’s actions were so helpful.
By keeping an open mind, and keeping their discussions going, it seems that Yaccarino sees Elon Musk the person as much different than Elon Musk the Twitter persona.
By assuring Musk she wanted to help, she motivated him to take time out of his schedule to meet with advertisers. And by doing the same for her colleagues over the years, she was able to convince them to give a listening ear.
Finally, by facilitating the conversation between Musk and her peers, she helped both parties to see that their relationship should be synergistic, not antagonistic.
So, what are the takeaways for you?
There are tons of founders and company owners out there like Musk, people who often let their emotions get the best of them, who often say things they regret, and who feel they are easily misunderstood.
Maybe you’re one of them. If so, you need to find your Linda Yaccarino.
Or, maybe you work with one of them. If so, you need to take a lesson from Linda Yaccarino.
Listen first, and keep an open mind.
Be helpful to both sides of a conflict.
Facilitate meaningful conversation.
These are the keys to managing relationships and working together, and they’ll help you do so with emotional intelligence.