Even as she institutionalized flexible work schedules, established an internship program and mentored people like Ms. Rubenstein at Hearst, Ms. Black also battled criticism that her day-to-day management style was unfeeling and intimidating, particularly to younger women. Executives quickly learned never to go into a meeting unprepared or to beat around the bush. “There’s no dillydallying,” said Gayle King, editor at large of O: The Oprah Magazine. “She has an agenda and that is it.”
Ms. Black was not afraid to call people out in front of large groups. “ ‘What are you saying’; ‘you’re not being clear,’ ” Ms. Rubenstein recalled hearing her say more than once. Another former editor, who like others insisted on anonymity for fear of offending such a powerful industry figure, remembered being snapped at: “You’ve been talking for five minutes, and I still don’t know what you want.”
And many people say they felt that she was judging more than their work. “You feel she is making very strong, intuitive decisions about you with every word you speak,” said another woman who worked under her.
“Nice shoes,” Ms. Black told one woman who showed up for a second job interview, before adding, “You wore them the last time.”
Gee, she sounds fantastic!
Just the person to institute 6,100 layoffs.