By Jonathan Kirschner, Psy.D. • September 9, 2011

3 Leadership Tips Inspired From Carol Bartz (Former CEO, Yahoo)

Carol Bartz is now the former CEO of Yahoo, as of two days. While it is undeniable that she inherited a very complex challenge in reviving Yahoo as CEO, there are also some valuable lessons in leadership "no-no's" we would be remiss not to address. Let's touch on three:

  1. Reward and Motivate your Talent and Heed the Laws of Human Motivation: At the beginning of her helm, Carol Bartz was charged with the onerous task of cost cutting. Having engaged a significant re-organization, employee morale was innevitabely low. However, instead of  addressing the low morale through incentivizing, motivating, and rewarding her top talent, Bartz made an external hire for the head of one of her strongest performing units, display ad sales, rather than promote an internal candidate based on performance. According to the Wall Street Journal, when a member of the internal sales team inquired about Bartz's talent strategy for promoting within, she responded that nobody was "owed anything" and that "everyone has to perform for our shareholders." Within a short period of time after, 7 out of the 10 senior sales executives departed.
  2. Respect Differing Views- Bartz's power wielding 'my way or the highway' approach was originally thought to meet an unfulfilled need in Yahoo's leadership culture. However, Bartz's overconfidence in her strategy and conduct led to the blowtorching of key relationships, including Jack Ma, the CEO of Yahoo's most valuable asset, Alibaba.
  3. Do Not F-bomb Your Boss or Your Company (former). Bartz coupled her over-confident leadership style with a potty mouth that only functioned to isolate, scare, and anger employees, investors, and ultimately her boss. Instead of taking personal responsibility for Yahoo's performance, she externalized blame and sought every reason but her own leadership style as the cause of Yahoo's lackluster performance.