Elon Musk’s leadership qualities have been a key factor in the success of SpaceX, Tesla, Boring Company, and OpenAI. Today, we’d be decoding the secrets of the Elon Musk leadership style, and help you implement the same qualities in your own life.
This begs the question, What leadership qualities of Elon Musk help him achieve the impossible? Let’s answer that here. Elon Musk Leadership Style is unique and unlike anyone else.
Elon Musk’s routine involves insane work ethics, extreme multi-tasking, and leadership skills that help him keep all people (other than SEC) happy.
Elon Musk Leadership Style and Qualities
We have seen Elon Musk’s leadership style. Now let’s see his qualities. There are many leadership qualities that Elon Musk possesses. These qualities can help you be a better person as well.
Elon Musk’s leadership qualities include leading from the front, trusting teams, optimism and motivation. Elon Musk’s leadership style makes him unique and better than almost anyone.
Quality 1: What Makes Elon Musk a great leader?
In the modern capitalistic world where the top executives stay away from places like factories. But Elon Musk is different. Elon Musk leads from the front. During the crisis days of Tesla, Elon Musk remained and lived in the Tesla factory throughout the day.
Not only that, but he slept in the factory as well. This was to ensure that employees feel they are all going through this tough time together. Furthermore, in case of any issue in the factory, Elon Musk was immediately available to take action, thus saving crucial time.
The sheer diligence and ability to be there for everyone in the hour of need is a leadership lesson that you must remember – Always be their for your employees and co-workers.
Quality 2: Trusting Teams
Elon Musk trusts his teams. Much more than any average leader. One of the most important leadership qualities of Elon Musk is to be unbiased and equal to all employees.
As such a busy person, he can’t really take care of every aspect of business, instead he builds trusting teams that ensure everything is happening as expected.
The greatest example of this Elon Musk leadership quality is seen in an incident in the Tesla factory. When the Tesla Model X door was causing lots of problems, He asked to talk to the line worker who was best at fixing the doors. He did not send a message to the employee routed through 4-5 managers.
He directly talked to the employee. That’s unlike most CEOs who treat those employees as “second-class citizens”. Instead, he treated low-level employees equally by directly talking to them. Elon Musk then presented the issues to the engineering team. The engineering team argued, “Those aren’t problems.”
But if there’s one thing common in Elon Musk’s leadership qualities, it is the fact that he trusts his teams, and has a lot of respect for all employees. The opinion of a Junior employee is as valuable as a top manager.
So, Elon Musk told the Engineering team, ‘This guy knows more than you do. You all have until Saturday to fix this. If you don’t get it fixed, then I will come on Saturday and help you fix this.’
Guess what? The issues indoors of Model X were all fixed, and complaints were quickly reduced. This insane vision is one of the reasons why Elon Musk makes so much money.
So the lesson you learn here is to build a team that you can trust, and always know whose words have more opinion. Elon Musk rightfully trusted
Quality 3: Maintain Proper Motivation in the Team
Elon Musk maintains a somewhat extreme level of Optimism in his life. It can be seen in the interactions with his team after a huge failure during SpaceX’s launch of the 3rd Flight of Falcon 1.
Dolly Singh, an ex-SpaceX employee, was working on the 3rd launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 1. She spreads light on Elon Musk’s Leadership Style, and how he behaved with employees.
With the previous 2 attempts being complete failures, this was the last chance for SpaceX to succeed before facing bankruptcy. On the day of the launch of the 3rd vehicle, things seemed favourable, the environment was filled with excitement and nervousness simultaneously. After an almost picture-perfect launch of 1st stage of the rocket, Stage 2 failed, creating 3rd failure in a row.
Dolly Singh describes the scene, the mood was tense, and SpaceX by that time was a 6-year-old company, burning through cash with almost no success, and employees working 70-80 hrs every week to see it succeed.
Employees expected Elon Musk to be sad, demotivated, or fuming in the fire. But What Elon did was genuinely remarkable among all instances of Elon Musk’s leadership qualities. He did the complete opposite. Instead of addressing the press, he considered it more important to address the employees first
He recognized the hard work and efforts of employees; he made a point that it is rocket science it is bound to be complicated. He explained how many countries have failed to reach space, and SpaceX was able to reach at least space that day, which was a fantastic achievement.
Showing a great example of Elon Musk leadership qualities, he motivated employees and made them realize that even though they failed, they were far ahead and superior to most competitive companies/countries.
The change in the mood of employees was quite visible. The heads that were down started rising, and the shoulders that were fallen were now slowly becoming firm again.
Quality 4: Maintain Optimism Is Tough Situations
Elon Musk is Motivating as well as optimistic. After the incident mentioned in the previous paragraph came one of the most outstanding examples of motivation.
After making employees motivated and proud about what they have done till that day, it was now the time to look towards the future. He explained the possibility of getting further investment which would give them a chance to have 2 more rocket launches. He asked employees to pick themselves up, and dust themselves off, preparing to work again for the next launch.
The chain of events after that, is truly a remarkable testimonial to Elon Musk’s Leadership Style.
SpaceX had figured out the likely cause of the failure in a matter of hours. Within 7 weeks of failure, SpaceX had manufactured the new rocket from the ground up. SpaceX team had done it with less than 400 employees and a super restricted financial diet, which was way quicker and cheaper than any other organization could possibly do.
On September 28th, 2008, SpaceX launched this new rocket and achieved complete success in this mission, becoming the first private company to reach orbit, and accomplishing what only the 6 most powerful countries could achieve to that day.
One of the best leadership qualities of Elon Musk is to hire great talent and amazing communication. It’s known that Elon Musk would personally interview the first few thousand people of each of his companies before hiring them to ensure that they were the perfect fit for the company.
Quality 5: Hiring Great Talent
Another unique aspect of Elon Musk Leadership Style was his ability to pursue people to join him. Elon Musk’s passion, vision, and energy convinced people to join him in his mission.
One such example is Gwynne Shotwell. She was well settled in her life and job and went to an interview at SpaceX will almost no expectations. She was pretty impressed by Elon Musk’s knowledge about Rockets and Aeronautic Business. “He was compelling—scary, but compelling,” Shotwell said about the meeting.
It was clear to her that sooner or later, Elon Musk was going to disrupt the Industry. He wanted Gwynne to be a part of this journey. Gwynne wasn’t convinced to leave her outstanding work-life balance and join SpaceX, where she would work high pressure and extended hours.
However, Elon Musk’s leadership style was enough to convince her. “Look, I’ve been a f***ing idiot, and I’m going to take the job,” she said. Today, she remains one of the most critical employees in SpaceX.
That’s how Elon Musk is. His perseverance brought many employees to join him.
Quality 6: Communication
Elon Musk leadership qualities involves a lot of energy and determination to achieve goals. His passion, mixed with his ability to hire great talent and communication makes him better than any other leader.
His communication skills are unlike anyone else. He communicates effectively. He communicates in a way that his words have a lot of value.
One of the best examples of Elon Musk’s communication skills is the email sent by him to the Tesla employees.
Quality 7: Difference Between Leadership Style and Leadership Qualities
Style and quality are 2 very different things. That’s because a leadership style is an approach to dealing with a situation, whereas leadership qualities are character traits that are very objective. For example, in a crisis, taking responsibility is a leadership quality, but to take responsibility, you could conduct a press conference or write an email or simply have a press release, that is your leadership style.
The Verdict – Elon Musk Leadership Qualities
Elon Musk is a fantastic businessman, dreamer, entrepreneur, and visionary. His insane work ethic, ambitions, and passion inspire many.
That’s why Elon Musk’s ability to manage his companies comes as a surprise to many.
But to be like Elon Musk, we must learn his leadership style and qualities. I hope that this was useful and relevant to you.
Feel free to tell us in the comment section below if we missed anything.