Elon Musk is the leader of SpaceX, Tesla, Boring Company, OpenAI, and many more. With so many diverse companies, cultures, and employees, being a leader is tough.
This begs the question, What are Elon Musk’s leadership qualities that 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 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 such as leading from the front, trusting teams, optimism and motivation. Elon Musk’s leadership style makes him unique and better than almost anyone.
1) Leading From Front
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 that they all are 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.
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.
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 would treat those employees as “second class citizens”. Instead, he gave equal treatment to low-level employees 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.
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 who is 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 favorable, 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 just to see it succeed.
Employees expected Elon Musk to be sad, demotivated, or fuming in the fire. But What Elon did was truly 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 hard. He explained how many countries have failed in reaching space, and SpaceX was able to at least reach space that day, which in itself was an amazing achievement it was.
He motivated employees and made them realize that even though they failed, they were far ahead and far superior to most of the competition companies/countries.
The change in the mood of employees was quite visible. The heads that were down started raising, and the shoulders that were fallen were now slowly becoming firm again.
Elon Musk is Motivating as well as optimistic. After the incident mentioned in the previous paragraph, came, one of the greatest 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, prepares to work again for the next launch.
The chain of events that happened after that, is truly a remarkable testimonial to Elon Musk’s Leadership Style.
In a matter of hours, SpaceX had figured out the likely cause of the failure. 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 achieve orbit, and accomplishing what only the 6 most powerful countries were able to achieve to that day.
Elon Musk Leadership Style
Elon Musk Leadership Style involves hiring 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.
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 were enough to convince 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 fairly 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 great 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 important employees in SpaceX.
That’s how Elon Musk is. His perseverance brought many employees to join him.
Elon Musk leadership style 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 communication skills is the email sent by him to the Tesla employees.
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.
Elon Musk clearly is an amazing businessman, dreamer, entrepreneur, and visionary. His insane work ethic, ambitions, and passion is the inspiration for many.
That’s why Elon Musk’s ability to manage his companies comes as a surprise for many.
But to be like Elon Musk we must learn Elon Musk leadership style and Elon Musk Leadership Qualities. I hope that this was useful and relevant to you.
If we missed anything, feel free to tell us in the comment section below.
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