Jeff Bewkes, chief operating officer of media company Time Warner, sometimes criticizes people so sharply that his bosses have told him to shut up. That’s the friendly bosses as well as the hostile ones.
But Bewkes didn’t turn Time’s HBO unit into a powerhouse based on mere carping. He’s smart and sensible, with keen judgment, which helped HBO, during his tenure as CEO there, evolve from a movie channel into a profitable movie studio that counts among its hits Sex and the City and The Sopranos.
His signature as a leader? He doesn’t mince words. Bewkes witheringly criticizes Time Warner’s merger with AOL. He claims that “frankness” helps his fellow honchos grasp things clearly and quickly.
The way he sees it, you must keep talking, acting, checking back and correcting course as you go. “That’s the fastest way to move,” he says. “So you’re always moving and you’re always deciding and you’re always getting new information. You can actually provoke information by doing things that you can’t figure out if you just sit there thinking.”
With “provoke” being the operative word.
Lesson: Speak up. If you’re right enough times, people will turn to you every time.
—Adapted from “Star Power,” Andy Serwer, Fortune.