This is the first time I’ve been willing to admit that I need leadership help

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.

This is crazy. How is that leaders can be held to such low standards? How is that they can admit in public that they lack the skills to do their job, but then they will continue in that job? Why do we have such low standards for people in leadership positions, whereas we have such high standards for people in lower positions?

There’s a lot to say about the conversation. There’s the lack of empathy Kalanick clearly reveals for the circumstances of his own drivers. There’s his indignant belief in the righteousness of his own vision. There’s his clear inability to listen to the people who power his business model. And there is of course the self-denial about the problem being his business model not the driver’s inability to manage his financial affairs.

But above all there’s some nice schadenfreude for the CEO of a company which has been known to deploy data snooping tactics for its own benefit being caught out by some dash-cam footage from one of his drivers. This in itself reveals a lot about the nature of the product Kalanick is peddling to customers. (Ironically enough, Donald Trump likes to tell stories about how he gets his best info about the state of the real world from his drivers.)

For Kalanick to be unaware his drivers use dash-cams as a liability management tool precisely to protect them from false accusations or complaints from overly fussy riders (especially given the low prices they’re paying) is hard to believe. This suggests Kalanick must genuinely have thought his points were defensible. But also that this sort of management style was okay when dealing with “contractors” who, remember, are not his employees.

In the normal corporate world shareholders would have demanded executive consequences for this sort of poor judgment — especially in light of the many faux pas that have come out of Uber since the start of 2017. In the regular corporate world the “I’m on a learning curve” excuse can only go so far. Not in Silicon Valley.

I am especially amazed when Kalanick says:

This is the first time I’ve been willing to admit that I need leadership help and I intend to get it.

What the hell? How can he admit that much without having to resign?

I suppose the concern is that if he resigns then Uber is doomed? Therefore the investors want him to stay? I do understand that line of reasoning, and I admit it is possible, though it is also possible that a guy who seems completely out of touch with the reality that his workers face is likely to make some terrible decisions in the future.

Kalanick’s full statement :

By now I’m sure you’ve seen the video where I treated an Uber driver disrespectfully. To say that I am ashamed is an extreme understatement. My job as your leader is to lead…and that starts with behaving in a way that makes us all proud. That is not what I did, and it cannot be explained away.
It’s clear this video is a reflection of me—and the criticism we’ve received is a stark reminder that I must fundamentally change as a leader and grow up. This is the first time I’ve been willing to admit that I need leadership help and I intend to get it.
I want to profoundly apologize to Fawzi, as well as the driver and rider community, and to the Uber team.

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