Twitter (X) Has a People Leadership Problem, Not a Branding Problem.

Elon Musk, Linda Yaccarino, and the former Twitter company have a leadership problem - not a branding problem.
Elon Musk & Linda Yaccarino have more than a branding issue. They have a people leadership problem. In this artificial photo, Musk looks confused as he observes the word PEOPLE stamped with the w "X" logo. To his side is Linda Yaccarino.

Shortly after buying the company, Elon Musk fired half of all employees. Then he developed a reputation for mistreating those who remained. Now, he and Linda Yaccarino (the new CEO), need a ton of great people if they want to make their vision for the platform a reality. Their problem is not branding – it’s leadership.

Big Plans for Massive Development

Musk and Yaccarino rebranded Twitter as the “X” app yesterday. Well, maybe rebranded gives the effort too much credit. They changed the name of the app and replaced 17 years of brand equity in the iconic bird logo with an “X”. However, the About page still displayed their brand guide for the original Twitter logo and more, as of this writing.

  • According to Musk, the new name represents, “…the imperfections in us all that make us unique.”
  • According to Yaccarino, the new name represents: “…the platform that can deliver, well….everything.”

Conflicting perspectives aside, they seem to have big expectations for the platform. According to Yaccarino:

X is the future state of unlimited interactivity – centered in audio, video, messaging, payments/banking – creating a global marketplace for ideas, goods, services, and opportunities. Powered by AI, X will connect us all in ways we’re just beginning to imagine.

That sounds like they plan to develop “well….everything”. The problem is, to develop, “well…everything”, you need a lot of amazing people.

Bad Boss Behaviors of Musk & Yaccarino

Unfortunately, they don’t seem to have enough people to reliably keep the platform running. There have been frequent and increasing outages on the platform under the new ownership.

Employees who remain find themselves dealing with disrespect, like the public spat between Musk and a disabled employee who asked if he’d been fired. Although Musk later apologized, he has a horrific track record of disrespecting and undervaluing people.

Less is known of Yaccarino’s leadership style. However, she demonstrated a clear lack of racial sensitivity during the launch of the Peacock service, for which she was responsible in her previous role.

Steep Competition for Talent

Demand for technology talent remains high. The best talent is not motivated by salary alone. Even if they are, the financial stability of the company has been questioned by at least one tech analyst firm. Forrester VP, Mike Proulx predicts X will shutter or be acquired within 12 months.

An argument could be made that if Musk returned X to it’s original state when he bought it, he may rebuild some of the 2/3 of value it’s lost since he acquired it. Without a clear path to higher valuation, financial stability remains a problem for any prospective senior-level hires.

Acquiring Great People Leadership

Yaccarino was brought on for her advertising genius (Peacock experience aside). She’s not known for her people leadership skills. Musk is known as the antithesis of great people leadership and frankly, for not caring about that reputation. So who is there to engage the remaining staff, inspire new applicants, and motivate them to build, “well…everything”?

Something very real needs to change. Unless strong people leadership is brought in or built quickly, Forrester may be right: X may be positioned to lose, “well…everything” in the next 12 months.

#News #Leadership #Tech #MuskMistakes

This post also appeared on our LinkedIn Newsletter at:


Picture of Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner is the founder and principal of Modern Servant Leader and Radiant Forest, LLC. He has studied and promoted servant leadership awareness and adoption for over 20 years. He is the author of 2 leadership books and has 2 decades of corporate management and leadership experience. His corporate experience spans CIO, VP, Director, and many management roles at Fortune 500, INC 500, and Nonprofits. Ben’s education includes a B.S. in Management Science & Information Systems from Penn State University and an MBA from Lehigh University. Ben's Full Profile Here: About Ben Lichtenwalner

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Content

Servant Leadership Library

A list of companies that value servant leadership. This list includes big names like Southwest Airlines, Starbucks and YUM Brands as well as many, often less-known organizations.

Scroll to Top
We Value Your Privacy

This site uses cookies to enhance your experience. We do not share, sell, or lease your information for any other purpose.