Is Elon Musk a Management Nightmare?

A number of years in the past, I wrote an article right here entitled “Why Steve Jobs is a Management Nightmare.” I wrote it with my faculty college students in thoughts as a result of, on the time, Jobs, Apple’s CEO, was one of the common and profitable leaders on this planet. As such, lots of my college students admired him. That was the issue, as a result of as profitable as Steve Jobs was, he may typically be a tyrant—throwing tantrums, belittling workers, displaying vanity, and allegedly taking credit score for others’ concepts. The message was: it’s okay to behave poorly towards others so long as you might be profitable. The ends justify the means.

However that’s lifeless mistaken.

It isn’t sufficient for a frontrunner to achieve success. Past success, chief must develop followers, enhance their confidence and sense of efficacy, and deal with them with respect. The easiest leaders are optimistic function fashions for his or her followers—demonstrating optimistic and moral habits, and giving credit score the place credit score is due.

So, what about Elon Musk—CEO of Tesla, SpaceX, and, extra lately, Twitter?

One among my readers wrote to me lately after seeing my Steve Jobs put up and stated, “I work within the tech sector and in tech it’s not possible to overstate the extent of affect Elon Musk is having. To a few of my youthful pals, he is sort of a God.” He went on to say that even his leaders admire Musk and search to emulate his habits.

Let’s be straight: Elon Musk has been extraordinarily profitable together with his corporations (though we should see about Twitter). Nevertheless, Musk’s habits is dictatorial: shedding scores of Twitter workers, taking credit score for the accomplishments of others, and extra lately, belittling a disabled worker (amongst different misdeeds). Once more, as within the case of Jobs, it’s not sufficient to achieve success. A real, good chief must additionally encourage and develop followers, behave in an exemplary and moral method (as a result of, in spite of everything, high-level leaders are function fashions), and deal with individuals with dignity and respect.

However you don’t must take my phrase for it. This previous weekend we hosted a convention on good and dangerous management. Specialists from all over the world got here to debate the complete “spectrum” of management, from virtuous to damaging. Elon Musk was talked about many occasions as one of many dangerous examples for the very causes outlined above.

So, why do I say that enterprise leaders like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs are “nightmares”? As a result of their success alone leads individuals to imagine that they’re “good” leaders—function fashions to be emulated. However success alone doesn’t make chief. As somebody who teaches management to younger adults, the thought that my college students would idolize and (God forbid) comply with within the footsteps of leaders like Elon Musk is what retains me up at night time.

So, who’re leaders that had been or are extremely profitable, however who additionally had good character and developed followers? How about Walt Disney, Warren Buffet, Reshma Saujani, Indra Nooyi, Charles Clinton Spaulding, or Oprah Winfrey? There are various efficient and moral enterprise leaders who’re higher function fashions than Jobs or Musk.