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Anna Wintour Explains Her Leadership Style

Photo: Driely S.

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The New York Times went right to the top to report on Condé Nast’s evolving culture and the brutal wave of layoffs at the company over the past few months. For a piece about changes at CondéNYT’s Ravi Somaiya interviewed both Bob Sauerberg, Condé Nast’s chief executive, and Anna Wintour, Vogue editor and artistic director of Condé Nast.

In reporting the story, Somaiya asked Wintour to respond to allegations from unnamed staff members who say Wintour "can be dismissive when displeased." Cue the icy stare:

When asked about those accounts, Ms. Wintour stared stonily and asked whether The New York Times was a tabloid newspaper. "Come on," she said. "I am decisive, you know. I don’t believe in wasting anybody’s time. I like to be honest. I like to be clear. In my own personal career, I have felt almost the most difficult thing to deal with is someone who doesn’t tell you what they are thinking."

Wintour agreed, however, that there is "an element of sexism" in the way she's viewed. "But I decided long ago that I can’t let any of that bother me," she told the Times. "If my style is too direct for some, maybe they should toughen up a bit."

Wintour dismissed the assertion that all the magazines she closely oversees begin to look like Vogue. Each publication has "a very original voice," she says.

She also rejects the idea that publishing is less fun now that the free-flowing clothing allowances have been replaced by looming web traffic targets.

"I don’t like that word ‘fun’ because it sounds light," Wintour said. "It’s intriguing. It’s intellectually stimulating. It’s different. Why do people want to get stuck in the past?"