Top 10 in Leadership from Elon Musk

By Ian Fratarcangeli  |  

7.2 min read

Elon Musk is an effective entrepreneur who has been active on his views towards getting employees back into the workplace. In a June 2022 interview, he commented “Tesla has and will create and actually manufacture the most exciting and meaningful products of any company on Earth,” adding, “This will not happen by phoning it in.” Elon Musk believes that remote work cannot provide the same environment as the workplace offers. He stated “Moreover, the office must be where your actual colleagues are located, not some remote pseudo-office”. While his sentiments may not be the popular ideology in 2022, Musk’s urge to return to the workplace comes from his leadership ideals. Let’s take a dive into the values Musk holds as a leader and how they’ve created the successful companies that he has today.

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. He understands that the success of his companies come from the ability of his teams to follow his lead and put in the effort.

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.”- 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 were 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, the 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. An example of getting rid of the process is the direct communication at Tesla. Musk encourages Tesla employees of all levels to share information directly, doing away with the hierarchy of flow of information and allowing creative ideas to grow.

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. Elon prides his teams on their ability to provide continuous feedback to each other. Feedback, whether positive or negative, acts as a waypoint for employees to determine how they can improve their work and strengthen the company.

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 outcompete 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 can adapt in any situation and continue pushing forward towards their team’s goals. Whatever comes their way, they understand how to enable their teams to leverage their strengths to find solutions and innovate. When a leader provides the team with a vision, they are motivated to follow the path and break through old barriers.

Lesson #8: Hire Carefully

“Hire great people. This is 90 percent of the solution, as hiring wrong can cost you so much.”– Elon Musk

With many workers now evaluating their current positions and searching for something new, hiring the right people is vital for success. Don’t hire just for the sake of filling a position. Effective leaders add people because they have the ability to help the company succeed; not to fill a vacancy. Assessments like the Predictive Index Behavioural Assessment® and the PI Cognitive Assessment® can be leveraged to assess if a candidate has the appropriate behavioural 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 behaviours 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 behavioural 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.

Elon Musk understands the important factors of creativity and productivity and how they are fostered in the workplace. While remote working continues, he expects companies to lose their drive to create new and innovating products. Through strategy, Elon harnesses the power of his people to develop world-changing ideas and make them a reality. Like at Predictive Success, the people data and their engagement are the priority in growing a company for Elon Musk.

Want to learn more about how 30% of today’s best-managed companies are using systems like The Predictive Index and Professional Learning Indicator to get the right people in the right roles, prepare teams for change, succession plan and develop gifted leaders? Request a free demo today. What are your leadership tips? Join the conversation and comment below.



Elon Musk Leadership Style: 13 Strategies | About Leaders

Elon Musk’s back-to-office edict reignites debate on remote work — here’s what other tech leaders say – GeekWire


Original Author: Kelly-Anne Lahey

Updated by: Ian Fratarcangeli

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