Craig Newmark on Leadership

Question: How would you describe your leadership style?

Newmark:    Well, Jim Buckmaster runs Craigslist.  I have some corporate governance responsibilities.  But for the most part, my history, personally, has been one of delegation.  When people help me realize that Jim was a much better manager and frankly that as a manager I kind of suck, I had to deal with that in a short amount of time, learn to give way to the right solution, which was making Jim CEO.  And I do struggle now and then with the idea of when do I actually say something versus when I don’t interfere.

Question: What do you admire in other leaders?

Newmark:    I guess what I most admire about leaders or would be leaders is their adherence to shared values and then their follow-through with that.  The big shared value has to do with treating people like you want to be treated, which in a leader means things like listening to people and then following through.  That’s increasingly tough in an organization depending on its size, because in an organization of any size, there’s usually a hierarchy and people tend to tell their boss what they want to hear, what the boss wants to hear.  Then the boss tells his or her boss what she or he wants to hear and that means information gets degraded almost immediately, which means that the CEO or a president is getting a bad data and they wind up living in a bubble.  So something that’s good to try in a company is to stay small so the lines of communication don’t have much opportunity to degrade.  In big organizations, alternative means need to be found to get real good information to the person at the top.  That’s why President Obama needs to hang on to his BlackBerry.

Craig Newmark explains the chain of command at Craigslist.

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