Elon Musk’s Search for a ‘Pretty Dumb’ Successor, Battling Year-End Burnout and More

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doAll are the elementary school version of succession planning. Like a note given to the class asking “Do you like it? Check yes or no,” Elon Musk asked his followers Monday if he should stay on as CEO of Twitter. Must promised to “stick to the results of this poll” and more than 57% of respondents said he should resign. By Tuesday night — despite the fact that future polls on major policy decisions will be limited to paying subscribers — Musk said he would step down after finding a successor.

It doesn’t matter if he actually follows through. Musk changes policies with abandon, and with no board to keep him in line and sole ownership of the platform, he can do whatever he wants. The biggest question will be who he can find to take the job, especially after he suggested to his 122 million followers that he will pass the baton once he finds “someone stupid enough” to take the job.

How’s that for a job posting? Work for a mercurial billionaire who says and does exactly what he wants, acting on whims and breaking policies. Lead a decimated workforce that sleeps in boardrooms and has faced ultimatums and upheavals in remote work rules. Drive strategy on a social media platform with declining revenue, angry users and increasing hate speech.

Of course, some will jump at the chance – lured by the possibility of overturning it, attracted by Musk’s seemingly more flexible regime, drawn to a disruptive leader who seems intent on radically reshaping a platform that has at times had a powerful impact on social change..

But many talented executives are likely to say no thanks. Musk is right: Few are probably foolish enough to sign on to lead a company that says it has a mountain of debt, contains few safeguards despite being big enough to need them, and will face inevitable calls from Washington for questions on security and hate speech. Trying to hire an executive at a company that seems increasingly mired in chaos — and whose owner, my colleague Diane Brady writes, has shown a powerful man’s distaste for free speech by suspending the accounts of some journalists — will be a huge challenge.

If you’re looking for a job, hopefully you’ll find one that has a boss who doesn’t expect him to fall asleep at the desk, a level of stability rather than chaos, and the flexibility to work in a way that allows you to focus, spend time with your team, and keep track of the rest of your life. The Forbes The Careers newsletter will be taking a break next week, but will be back on January 4 to wish you a happy 2023.

—with Emmy Lucas


SUBJECT HISTORY

America’s Best Mid-Sized Companies

Forbes published its annual list of the best mid-sized US companies, using data from FactSet to review more than 1,000 companies with market capitalizations between $2 billion and $10 billion. The top 100 ranking is based on earnings growth, sales growth, return on equity and total stock return. Read more of the story here.


WORK SMARTER

LinkedIn is the first place potential employers, clients and business partners go to check you out. Here are five ways to get noticed—and why you should update your profile before the new year.

Talking about money can be uncomfortable. Try these tips to navigate paid chats.

As a leader, you can grant autonomy, but still have limits.

Burnout is common amid the holiday madness of professional and personal responsibilities. Here are tips for dealing with that “year-end burnout.”

Finish strong by avoiding these five mistakes as you close out the year.


ON OUR AGENDA

Work stress increases: Results from LinkedIn’s latest Workforce Confidence Index show that more than 30% of professionals reported feeling stressed, fearing that their employers are planning budget cuts and layoffs; Forbes Senior Associate Jack Kelly writes. However, the concerns are not universal. People in fields such as consulting, recruiting and administrative support typically have higher levels of confidence, according to the report, while those in technology are more concerned.

Harvard’s new president: The oldest institution of higher education in the US announced last week that Claudine Gay has been selected as its 30th president, reports Forbes partner Shaun Harper. When her term begins next July, Gay will be the first black person to serve in Harvard’s top leadership role since its founding in 1636.

Bias against women leaders: It’s on the rise, suggests the annual international Reykjavik Index for Leadership survey. Most worryingly, Forbes Senior associate Kim Elsesser writes that the study revealed that younger generations have less progressive views of women in leadership roles than their parents or grandparents.

Argentina’s teamwork: The key to Argentina’s historic victory at the Qatar 2022 World Cup was the strong bond between its players, writes Forbes partner Luciana Paulise. The power of a common goal – the return of the trophy to Argentina after 36 years – can bring people together and inspire greatness like little else, writes Paulise.

SBF’s career crash: In the latest SBF news, disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried has agreed to be extradited from the Bahamas to the US to face a series of criminal charges over alleged fraud, Forbes’ reports Nicholas Reimann. The decision comes after he abruptly backed down from extradition hours earlier during a tumultuous court hearing.


BOOK CLUB

In a new book Switchers: How Smart Professionals Switch Careers—and Seize Success, career coach Dawn Graham provides advice on how to land a new career when you feel stuck in your current career. Since “CVs and job boards were designed with traditional applicants in mind,” this book tells you how to get beyond the basics and get noticed when applying for new roles.

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