Elon Musk & The 6 Common Themes of Great Leaders

There’s many men in history that stand out, but none exemplify the true spirit of a great leader like Elon Musk.  Not only does he care about the world, but he cares about his employees and their communication.  What can we learn from Elon about being a great leader?

Great leaders do many great things, but they often have these 6 common themes:

Common Themes of Great Leaders

Great leaders promote great communication.

Communication is what makes the great companies, great! Elon Musk recently released a memo to his employees about communication.  It’s some amazing stuff! Take a look!

Subject: Communication Within Tesla

There are two schools of thought about how information should flow within companies. By far the most common way is chain of command, which means that you always flow communication through your manager. The problem with this approach is that, while it serves to enhance the power of the manager, it fails to serve the company.

Instead of a problem getting solved quickly, where a person in one dept talks to a person in another dept and makes the right thing happen, people are forced to talk to their manager who talks to their manager who talks to the manager in the other dept who talks to someone on his team. Then the info has to flow back the other way again. This is incredibly dumb. Any manager who allows this to happen, let alone encourages it, will soon find themselves working at another company. No kidding.

Anyone at Tesla can and should email/talk to anyone else according to what they think is the fastest way to solve a problem for the benefit of the whole company. You can talk to your manager’s manager without his permission, you can talk directly to a VP in another dept, you can talk to me, you can talk to anyone without anyone else’s permission. Moreover, you should consider yourself obligated to do so until the right thing happens. The point here is not random chitchat, but rather ensuring that we execute ultra-fast and well. We obviously cannot compete with the big car companies in size, so we must do so with intelligence and agility.

One final point is that managers should work hard to ensure that they are not creating silos within the company that create an us vs. them mentality or impede communication in any way. This is unfortunately a natural tendency and needs to be actively fought. How can it possibly help Tesla for depts to erect barriers between themselves or see their success as relative within the company instead of collective? We are all in the same boat. Always view yourself as working for the good of the company and never your dept.


Great leaders love the people they lead.

Great Leaders Love the Ones they lead
Great leaders have compassion and care for the people they lead. They are tasked to manage the company that is a foundation for the home they live in. When a great leader makes a business decision, they think about the impact on their employees and company.


Great leaders promote good communication.

Good communication is essential in business.  Too many leaders promote a silo’d approach to communication.  It’s as if there are many competing companies within one company.  Recently, in the news, it was noted that SpaceX was approached by Tesla engineers to solve a problem that they could not.  They continuously had problems with a part, so they called on SpaceX to assist.  Jon McNeill, Tesla’s President of Global Sales and Services, siad, “We had a challenge in service just over the past week where we needed to determine the quality of an object deep within our structure, an aluminum casting. That’s something that SpaceX knows how to do,” he said during the earnings call. “Our team reached out to the SpaceX team, the SpaceX team provided us with some ultrasonic sensors so we could quickly take corrective action.”  Now, that’s communication!


Great leaders are passionate about impacting the world with their services.

Elon Musk is one of the most passionate business leaders and we’re seeing something amazing happening right before our eyes.  Through his passion, he is imagining a world that is self sustaining and ecologically friendly!


Great leaders take calculated risks to create a better world.

According to IBM’s super computer, Watson, Elon Musk is the most cautious tech leader in Silicon Valley. To most this would come as a surprise, but taking a calculated risk isn’t much of a risk when considering all the analytic data available. Elon Musk is determined to change the world for the better.


Great leaders listen and to the people they lead and the clients they service.

Elon Musk recently listened to his customers by implementing a policy that would assist Tesla customers in sharing charging stations. The issue became known to Elon through twitter when a customer wrote:

The word “listen” when rearranging its letters also spells the word “silent”!  Within 6 hours Elon Musk had implemented a resolution to this problem.


Elon Musk is shaping up to be one of the greatest business leaders our age has ever seen.  We can all take a page from his book!

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