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The New York Times yesterday had an interview with Jay Walker, chairman of Walker Digital and founder of Priceline and Upside, in which he talked - in surprising terms - about his management philosophy:

"I’m not a manager, and you wouldn’t want me to manage anything you were running," he says, explaining that "management is a set of skills and desires, neither of which I’m strong in. Management is the art of accomplishing objectives through others, and that’s different from leadership, which is more the art of inspiring others and getting them to want to do things.

"I’ve never thought of myself as a particularly good manager. A manager’s job is to develop the people they work with. It’s about process. I’m not a strong process person. I’m more an out-of-the-box guy.

"I’ve always hired managers to do the job of management, which is no insult at all. It’s not beneath me in any way. It’s just not my strength. Create things? I’m your guy. Solve unusual problems? Maybe. Dream up whole new ways to approach things? I’m your guy. Manage? Not so much."

And, he goes on:

"My style is not to perpetuate a false illusion that you work for me. You work for you. You get up every day and you come in here because you want to be here. We’re not having a discussion about who’s in charge. If you have a better idea, great. Let’s hear it ... I wouldn’t try to encapsulate a set of rules and regulations to say here’s how I do things. But I will tell you that I’m highly collaborative and interested in the best thinking. If you can express yourself well, that’s good. If you can’t, that’s a big problem."
KC's View:
I've been pretty tough on Walker and Priceline over the years, especially when they got (briefly) into the name-your-own-price-for-groceries business. But I love this interview, and what he has to say.