Elon Musk Leadership In The Spotlight
Elon Musk is a man of wealth and great talent and an indisputable leader.
“The world’s most remarkable living entrepreneur,” is what Chris Anderson, the founder of TED, calls him. Many compare him to Steve Jobs. Some say Elon Musk is in a league of his own.
His businesses and ventures—including PayPal, Tesla Motors, and SpaceX—are fueled by imagination, intellect and drive.
With an innate entrepreneurial passion, this innovative leader has been pursuing countless endeavors since the age of 12. Since that time, he has introduced the world to a collection of his incredible visions for the future.
Elon Musk plans to send tourists around the moon, colonists to Mars and hack our brains. Yes, it sounds totally insane and impossible!
Yet, he has already achieved the unthinkable – seamless transactions of cash across the internet, creating a reusable rocket and landing it vertically on a floating platform.
His secret to success? He doesn’t lead teams like ordinary leaders. He is a transformational leader.
ImportantActually, Elon Musk’s leadership behaviors coincide with each of Bennis and Nanus’ four strategies typically used by transformational leaders.
Transformational leadership is a leadership style that can inspire positive changes in those who follow.
Not only are these leaders concerned and involved in the process; they are also focused on helping every member of the group succeed as well.
Transformational leaders are just that — those men and women who change the world.
WarningWhile he may have been shrouded by controversy, from smoking marijuana during an interview to a couple of ill-judged tweets, there’s no denying his achievements as a leader in the tech world.
But how does Elon Musk do it? And whether you’re a fan of his or not, what can we learn from Elon Musk about leadership? Here are five traits of transformational leaders you can leverage to make your business thrive!
Elon Musk is a visionary, and truly believes in every business venture he puts his mind too. Because he has such a strong vision, he isn’t afraid to face obstacles others might find impossible to overcome.
This is one of the things Musk is known for – tackling obstacles head on.
WarningHe has had many failures in the course of his career, ranging from mechanical failures in his Tesla brand to rockets crashing. SpaceX almost went bankrupt.
Elon Musk is an outstanding example of the entrepreneurial spirit due to his ability to overcoming disappointment.
What’s remarkable is that he never lets it stop him from fighting through and progressing. He views these as experiments that didn’t work out and simply moves on to the next step.
One thing Elon Musk does seem to get right is his dedication to continuous improvement.
ImportantElon Musk recognizes feedback as one way to become a better leader. He is a big advocate of the power of truthful feedback for improving individual, team, and organizational performance.
Another important attribute of Elon Musk’s leadership is the ability to be driven by results.
In each of his business pursuits, Elon Musk identifies stretch goals for his team to achieve. The achievement of these goals is not beyond reasonable expectations.
But these goals are extreme and demand everyone to push themselves to the limit in order to achieve them.
In doing so, he not only gets the most out of the talent around him. But he also hits some incredible targets that many believed to be unattainable.
By setting stretch goals and allowing failure to guide change, Elon Musk encourages his people to do their best.
By empowering everyone in the organization to tackle obstacles themselves, he will not only accelerate the success of the business, but build a more engaged and fulfilled workforce at the same time.
Passion For Innovation
Many people would consider Elon Musk to be the most innovative entrepreneur of our time. What’s amazing about him is that he seems to believe that there is an innovation to solve every problem that arises.
He sees problems as opportunities and that is what has led him to his success.
ImportantElon Musk’s leadership is routinely characterized in its ability to challenge the status quo and embraced needed change. For Musk, this means taking on some of the most significant issues in our lifetime.
Rather than examining what different markets may want, he approaches change from a different perspective.
Using a first principles philosophy, his leadership examines underlying key constraints to a problem. And then, he embarks on a journey to test every single possible solution to achieve major breakthroughs.
Rather than wait for change to occur, Elon Musk accelerates change for the betterment of all.
If scientific principles suggest a solution should exist, Elon Musk strives to find it. This is a hallmark of his leadership, and a major reason he has disrupted several industries.
The story of Elon Musk represents a magnified version of a trait that many high performers share: learning agility.
It is about learning from experience and applying it in new ways, adapting to new circumstances and opportunities. Learning-agile people:
- Are willing, even eager, to challenge the status quo.
- Have high levels of intellectual curiosity.
- Push, explore, ask questions, seek knowledge and insight.
- Are energized by challenges.
- Don’t get overwhelmed; work through obstacles.
- Are works in progress: restless, self-critical.
This is mainly for staffing up 4 production shifts for 24/7 operations, but engineers, supervisors & support personnel are certainly needed too. A super hardcore work ethic, talent for building things, common sense & trustworthiness are required, the rest we can train.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 4, 2020
Elon Musk takes a scientific approach to building teams, one that is based upon an understanding of their behavior and talent, and he leads them through action.
In each of his ventures, Elon Musk has managed to mobile people to accept a new group identity and a new philosophy.
ImportantThat philosophy is maintaining unprecedented standards of excellence and clearing unforeseen paths of progress in nearly abandoned industries.
In many ways, Elon Musk has inspired his employees.
When Elon Musk addressed to his employees after the failure of the first launch attempt of the SpaceX Falcon vehicle, he encouraged and motivated his team with fortitude and ferocity, saying, “For my part, I will never give up and I mean never”.
Elon Musk continually earns the trust of his followers by being predictable and reliable, even in situations that are uncertain.
WarningWhen Tesla struggled through various crises of financial difficulty, Elon Musk continued to fund the company out of his own pocket.
Transformational leadership is most effective in times of crises.
As such, it is unsurprising that Elon Musk’s transformational leadership strategies were most apparent in these uncertain situations.
Sharing his visions inspire those affiliated with his efforts. And it helps attract some of the best talent in the world.
Unlike some other leaders, Elon Musk tends to be tremendously outspoken and often publicizes this extreme visions. In doing so, he attracts attention, which is important when seeking talented people to work with.
Transformational leaders empathize with their employees.
They work side-by-side with their team members on projects. They’re in-tune with their team players needs and concerns.
It is their job to inspire, keep everyone’s head in the game and cheer the team on to the finish line.
ImportantA healthy dose of emotional intelligence is also valuable, and Elon Musk’s ability to identify others’ emotions and change the way he works with people to better lead is something every leader should strive to emulate.
Lead By Example
“At Tesla, using AI to solve self-driving isn’t just icing on the cake, it the cake” - @lexfridman— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 2, 2020
Join AI at Tesla! It reports directly to me & we meet/email/text almost every day. My actions, not just words, show how critically I view (benign) AI.https://t.co/iF97zvYZRz
It’s difficult to persuade your people to give their best for your company if you’re not committed yourself. And if you’re going to influence a whole organization then that commitment needs to be highly public, regularly communicated and deeply authentic.
Elon Musk creates commitment by demonstrating powerfully and magnetically his passion for his companies.
WarningWhen Tesla production fell behind schedule he started sleeping in the office. He talks about spending 100 hours a week at work.
No-one can doubt that as a leader Elon Musk is passionately and authentically committed to his work.
His tweets show a man obsessed with the success of his companies, and he will get involved in the smallest detail of production to try and make a difference.
Effective leaders have a powerful and reliable message and stick to it.
ImportantThis creates confidence among investors that you are focused on delivery, and reassures employees that they are working to a clearly defined goal.
Leaders are responsible for enforcing standards and by far the best way to do so is to lead by example.
It’s proven to lead to benefits such as reducing risk, lower rates of misconduct and less pressure to break rules. Whether they like it the example leaders set will be followed by employees.
It’s called transference, and it’s the “emotional glue that binds people to a leader“.
Share Your Vision
There is no doubt that Elon Musk has a vision. He has a vision of a world that is no longer reliant on fossil fuels, is maximizing their use of green energy, and is exploring space and building colonies on Mars.
Leaders who literally change the world are able to create a great vision.
They see a need and are able to envision an answer or gather their team players to brainstorm possible solutions. The vision becomes their mission.
Leadership, at its simplest, is about painting a vision of the future and persuading others to follow you there.
ImportantThe leader who can articulate a clear vision of the future for their organization – and sell it to customers – has never been more important.
Shareholders and workers are looking for leaders who can bring clarity and simplicity to their world.
Elon Musk is outstanding at this. He may not have founded Tesla but from the moment he invested he painted a vision of a petrol-free future that has inspired fanatical customers and passionate employees.
Elon Musk has already astounded the world with the achievements he has already made. By exhibiting clear features of bold and transformational leadership, he has achieved remarkable success.
Digging into Elon Musk is like opening Pandora’s box. The more you look, the more you find.
ImportantElon Musk’s leadership style is about constantly learning, breaking through barriers, and developing new ways to solve problems.
Elon Musk may not be the perfect leader but that doesn’t matter.
There’s plenty that you can learn from watching him that will help you understand and improve your own effectiveness.
An adaptive leader will create a culture of continuous learning and growth.
ImportantUltimately, the best leaders put their energy into empowering their people to be better so that they can each play their part in driving the success of the business.
Be the cheerleader, the head coach and work with your team towards the goal.
The best leaders foster growth, independence and creativity. Embrace transformational leadership, gather your tribe and change the world.
Thinking about how you perform in these five critical areas will help you become a better leader yourself.
What do you personally think about the style of leadership of Elon Musk? Do you think it’s doable to apply it in your organization? Let me know in the comments section below!