Recently, Jack Dorsey left his long-time position as CEO of Twitter. He turned over the reins to Parag Agrawal, an Indian-born technology leader who has been with the company for about a decade. Before he departed, he sent a note goodbye which included praise of Agrawal. Agrawal wrote his own motivational letter, acknowledging Jack’s leadership and providing a clear motivational letter to his team, which happened to be the whole company.
Let’s take this opportunity to examine this motivational letter to a team. Some publications are praising it for its demonstration of leadership integrity. Does it deserve this praise? What can we learn from it to help us write our own future motivational letters?
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We’re going to take a look through this motivational letter, how well it’s written and why it’s a strong motivation letter (or not). Being able to write a strong motivational letter to a team is a great leadership skill that can pay great dividends.
Motivating a Team in Transition
For many organizations, a change in leadership is handled nonchalantly or, not at all. Some, like the military, deliberately make a big deal out of a change in leadership. Much like pilots ensuring someone is always at the controls the military understands that it’s important that the unit knows who is in charge and that they know who they are. They do this with great formality and ceremony. Corporations rarely do.
While Dorsey and Agrawal exchanged letters, the acknowledgment, and praise with which it was done gave some semblance of a change of command if a less formal one. However, they follow that up with an all-hands meeting for greater formality and engagement. Before that, Parag Agrawal sent his team a letter of motivation. Let’s take it apart.
What Was Good About Parag Agrawal’s Letter to Twitter Employees
Overall, his letter was a strong one, filled with a sense of hope, pride, and drive to a brighter future. Here are some specific things to like about his letter.
- Positive – He opens the letter by thanking Jack Dorsey for his coaching and leadership. He is very positive about the future and the opportunities for Twitter and its employees.
- Recognizes Their Work – This is really important. He recognizes the hard work and dedication of the employees at Twitter. It comes across at heartfelt and honest. This message is very easy to come across as patronizing. That can actually make the letter worse and demotivate people. This will often backfire, perhaps in incredible ways leading to bad press and demotivated employees. For example, when the Better.com CEO fired a large portion of his staff over Zoom. The press had a great time with that.
- Level Sets Who He Is, Where He’s Headed and What He Needs – He lays out his background, his vision for the company and what that future looks like. To motivation your team, you want to build a world that your team wants to live in.
- Provides an Ask – He tells them of the ambitious goals and how important their work is to meeting those goals. He lays out what the goals will mean for Twitter.
- He Connects with The Employees – He reminds them of how long he has been there, what the company looked like then and that he is one of them. This can be very difficult for a leader to do. Senior leaders are naturally separated from the employees, which can lead to resentment and mistrust.
What Was Bad About His Motivational Letter to a Team
Overall, the letter was excellent. There are a few things that one could disagree with. For the sake of conversation and making a point, we’ll point some of these out. That said, the letter is well written and should be a positive message to his team.
- The Ask Was Weak – The ask of his employees was somewhat in passing. In this case, it probably works well. He has the opportunity in the all-hands meeting to discuss it further and this is an introductory letter. However, be careful of being so general that it’s not a worthwhile ask.
- Didn’t Make Clear What Success Was – He paints a future of Twitter but he isn’t entirely clear what the future holds for Twitter and what the hard work of the team means. Again, in this case, it’s probably okay, but people like to know where they are headed, even if it’s a stop on the road to a brighter future.
Overall, this is an excellent motivation letter. It celebrates a difficult change in the company and the employees’ part in the future. It is a letter to study for when you need to write your own motivation letter to your team.
Parag Agrawal Letter to Twitter Employees
Thank you, Jack. I am honoured and humbled. And I’m grateful for your continued mentorship and your friendship. I’m grateful for the service that you built, the culture, soul, and purpose you fostered among us and for leading the company through really significant challenges. I am grateful for the trust you’ve put in me and for your continued partnership.
Team, most of all, I’m grateful for all of you, and it’s you who inspire confidence in our future together. I joined this company 10 years ago when there were fewer than 1,000 employees. While it was a decade ago, those days feel like yesterday to me. I’ve walked in your shoes, I’ve seen the ups and downs, the challenges and obstacles, the wins and the mistakes.
But then and now, above all else, I see Twitter’s incredible impact, our continued progress, and the exciting opportunities ahead of us.
Our purpose has never been more important. Our people and our culture are unlike anything in the world. There is no limit to what we can do together.
We recently updated our strategy to hit ambitious goals, and I believe that strategy to be bold and right. But our critical challenge is how we work to execute against it and deliver results – that’s how we’ll make Twitter the best it can be for our customers, shareholders, and for each of you. I want you to #LoveWhereYouWork and also love how we work together for the greatest possible impact.
I recognize that some of you know me well, some just a little, and some not at all. Let’s consider ourselves at the beginning – the first step towards our future. I’m sure you have lots of questions and there’s a lot for us to discuss. At the all-hands tomorrow we’ll have lots of time for Q&A and discussion. It will be the beginning of ongoing open, direct conversations I wish for us to have together.
The world is watching right now, even more than they have before. Lots of people are going to have lots of different views and opinions about today’s news. It is because they care about Twitter and our future, and it’s a signal that the work we do here matters. Let’s show the world Twitter’s full potential.– Parag Agrawal