Elon Musk is a South Africa-born inventor and investor. He is the CEO and CTO of SpaceX, CEO of Tesla Motors, and Chairman of SolarCity. He is an early investor in SpaceX, PayPal, Inc, Tesla Motors and Zip2.
Lesson #1: Lead by Example
“If you’re co-founder or CEO you have to do all kinds of tasks you might not want to do … If you don’t do your chores, the company won’t succeed …
No task is too menial.” – Elon Musk
“Just work like hell. If other people are putting in 40 hour work weeks and you’re putting in 100 hour work
weeks, even if you’re doing the same thing, you know that you will achieve in four months what it takes them a year to achieve.”- Elon Musk
One thing we all control is our own effort. Elon Musk realizes that his thoughts will only change the world if implemented and executed upon. He is known for his tenacious work ethic to see through his visions.
Lesson #2: Lead with Purpose
“You have to have a very compelling goal for the company. If you put yourself in the shoes of someone who’s talented at a world level, they have to believe that there’s potential for a great outcome and believe in the leader of the company, that you’re the right guy to work with. That can be a difficult thing, especially if you’re trying to attract people from other companies.”- Elon Musk
Elon’s purpose is simple. He is determined to revolutionize three industries. He has said that he didn’t start Space X because he thought building rocket ships was going to be great for his portfolio; Space X is his way of making his mark on the world. No matter what the goal, leaders must develop a vision for where they would like to be and work until they reach their destination. In Elon’s case, that place is Mars.
Lesson #3: Be Creative
“The problem is that at a lot of big companies, process becomes a substitute for thinking. You’re encouraged to behave like a little gear in a complex machine. Frankly, it allows you to keep people who aren’t that smart, who aren’t that creative.”- Elon Musk
Elon Musk believes that process prohibits the ability for innovation to take place. In many cases, continued formal education can be a negative because it denies creativity. Without creativity, progress and innovation are impossible.
Lesson #4: Be Collaborative
“Talent is extremely important. It’s like a sports team, the team that has the best individual player will often win but then there’s a multiplier from how those players work together and the strategy they employ.”- Elon Musk
Musk understands that teamwork is a necessity for any team or business to succeed. It is integral to employ a team that operates in a cohesive and team-oriented fashion. This sense of pride in team success has to start with the leadership. Elon Musk leads by “doing” more than “telling”. Set an example that inspires your team to succeed as one.
Lesson #5: Encourage Innovation
“Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.”- Elon Musk
At Space X, their first 3 launches failed. Musk took that as an opportunity to learn and innovate. If someone is confined to the walls of which process does not allow expansion, innovation is impossible. Elon Musk enables and encourages employees to step out of the “traditional” way of thinking and to put all new ideas forth.
Lesson #6: Be Decisive
“Without decisive action to lay the groundwork today, the massive volume of affordable, high efficiency panels needed for unsubsidized solar power to out compete fossil fuel grid power simply will not be there when it is needed,”- Elon Musk
Unless you commit to acting in the present, the change you want will never happen in the future. Elon Musk finds out what he wants and then acts on his ideas. Strategy and action lead to results.
Lesson #7: Be Comfortable with Change
On being a CEO, “it’s eating glass and staring into the abyss”- Elon Musk
You never know which challenges are going to arise. Successful leaders are able to adapt in any situation and continue pushing forward towards their teams goals. Whatever comes their way, they understand how to enable their teams to leverage their strengths to find solutions and innovate.
Lesson #8: Hire Carefully
“I think you definitely don’t want to grow too fast. Make sure that every person you hire, you really need to hire that person.” – Elon Musk
Don’t hire just for the sake of filing a position. Make sure you hire the right person the first time. Effective leaders add people because they are going to help them succeed; not to fill a vacancy. Assessments like the Predictive Index® and the Professional Learning Indicator® can be leveraged to assess if a candidate has the appropriate behavioral drives and mental agility to succeed in the role.
Lesson #9: Set Exceptionally High Standards
“The number one issue for me is finding superlatively talented people. I think we’ve been fortunate to find some very, very talented people at SpaceX, but that is always the governor on growth.”- Elon Musk
It is common knowledge that acquiring talent is one of the single most prevalent business challenges for leaders. What do you do to invest in your managers once you find the best people? The job isn’t done once you find and acquire top talent. The best leaders are self-aware. Gifted leaders understand the power of adjusting their behaviors and leadership style to inspire their people.
Lesson #10: Put the Right People in the Right Role
“If you’re trying to create a company, it’s like baking a cake. You have to have all the ingredients in the right proportion.”- Elon Musk
Successful leaders set their people up for success. They do not try to force square pegs into round holes. If you want to get the most out of your team, put them in roles that are natural to their behavioral drives. If you try to turn your employees into something they are not, you will lose talent. If people are happy and energetic in their roles, they are going to want to company to succeed.
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