Elon Musk Leadership

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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In the previous paper I mentioned about the Communication and Leadership qualities of Elon Musk and also how did he implement all these qualities in his organizational culture and climate. All those qualities are highly essential for being an efficient leader. The world we are living is always changing. The nature of the business world today is very different than it was decades ago. Change is inexorable. This is because, people always look for better choices to live their life. Therefore, the people come up with new technologies to meet this need. Musk always had to be on his toes and have to think spontaneously and creatively at the same time. As quoted in Lussier & Achua’s book in Leadership Theory and skill development, “leadership is the process of influencing leaders and followers to achieve organizational objectives through change.” Therefore, it is essential for leaders to have the capabilities and qualities to lead, implement and manage change.


According to me one of the crucial reasons for the success of Musk was suggesting and inviting the changes needed in the present but also thinks for the future. For an Organization to be successful, it is the combined efforts of the team members. It is also always important not only keep up with the changing times, but also think about the future according to the present scenario. Some of the important lessons of Elon Musk’s leadership are:

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  • Lead by Example: If you are the CEO or the Founder of any Organization you need to do all the chores that you may not want to do. The success of any organization is based on how dedicated we are for our work.
  • Lead with Purpose: Everyone must have a very compelling goal for their organization. Without any proper goal, one can’t run any work. Musk explained that he started SpaceX just to put his mark on the world.
  • 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. He believes that innovation should take place because a lot of substitute is available in the market and the market is growing very rapidly.
  • Encourage Innovation: As per Elon Musk “Failure is an option, if things are not failing, we are not innovating enough”. Musk always enables and pushes his employees to innovate new ideas and concepts.
  • Be comfortable with change: As per Musk we should always look for the new technologies and should be ready to cope up with the new changes. Successful leader generally adapts in any situation and always pushes forward their team goals.
  • Hire Carefully: This is the most crucial lesson for any organization. Musk never hires any person just for the sake of filling any position rather he believes in the talent and he always hires the right person at the right time.
  • 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. We should always choose our employees according to their specialization. If we try to turn our employees into something they are not, we will lose the talent.

(Lahey, ‘Top 10 in Leadership from Elon Musk’, 2019)

As mentioned in the book ‘Leadership Theory Application and skill development (Lussier, R. N., & Achua, P-443), Effective Leaders are role model for change. A leader must embody the change that he or she wants to see in the followers. Gandhi put it best when he said, “We must become the change that we want to see”. Also, the effective change agent should also be a good listener. Listening helps a leader have a better understanding of the root causes of resistance. Implementing a huge change in the organization was not easy for Musk. The most important value promoted by Musk is the tendency and vision to help others.

Problem Management and Decision Making

Problem management and decision-making are important skills for any business or Organization. They are generally interlinked with each other. Problem-management generally involves decision-making, and decision-making is especially important for management and leadership. There are different processes and techniques to improve decision making. With reference to the book ‘Leadership Theory Application and skill development (Lussier, R.N, & Achua, P-316), there are three major models for decision making: Team centered decision-making model, Leader centered decision-making model, Normative decision-making model.

The first model is generally focused with the teams. The team-centered decision-making model is preferred when a relevant information and expertise are scattered among different people and participation is needed to obtain necessary commitment. (Lussier & Achua, Leadership: theory, application, et kill development, 2016). The role of the leaders in the team centered decision-making model is to serve as a mentor or consultant.

The second model is the Leader-centered decision making model. In this type of model, Leader exercises their power in managing and instructing their team members.

The final model is the Normative decision-making model. The normative leadership model has a time-driven and development-driven decision tree that enables the user to select one of five leadership styles (decide, consult individually, consult group, facilitate, and delegate) appropriate for the situation to maximize decision outcomes. Each of the five leadership styles affects the level of participation in the decision by followers. (Ref-Lussier & Achua, Leadership: theory, application, et kill developmenz, 2016).

There is generally greater appreciation for team centered decision-making model because it is more effective rather compared to other two decision-making model. Many of the leaders find out that the leader centered decision-making model does not fit well with the organization who is more focused with the team. Musk always believes in working as a team, and it seems like Musk always believes in the team-decision making model in solving any types of problems. According to him one can’t get succeed without a good team. In an interview, he said that he always interacts with his team member and he also make sure that any of the employer in his organization can easily coordinate with him. He also tries to share the same ideas with respect to their team members. These shows that Elon Musk have the qualities which a leader in a team decision-making model had including his ability to listen carefully and also to encourage the team members. After implementing team centered decision-making model, Musk was able to improve the decision making and to increase the commitment by team members.

Consensus Building and Negotiation

The term Consensus building refers to variety of approaches. Generally, it is a voluntary mechanism in which the different participants come to a mutual consent regardless of their differences. Elon Musk is also known to be a great negotiator. He has also been remarkably successful in negotiating and securing nearly $5 billion in state tax credits. One of the major factors in his negotiation is how he uses the title Power to his advantage while negotiating. There are different power level that Musk uses during the process of negotiation. One of the main traits that he uses is communication skills. As we all know that Musk is a very good speaker and so he uses his communication skills in consensus building and negotiation. Musk have a charismatic power, the power to influence people with personality.

Negotiation process can be easily understood with the following four-stage process (Ref-Lussier & Achua, Leadership: theory, application, et kill developmenz, 2016, P- 165).

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  • Preparation and Planning: In every business in which Musk is associated with, he bought a vision of doing the things in a unique way. He always tries to think out of the box by implementing new ideas and creating new goals.
  • Definition of ground rules: Musk always tries to establish different rules and procedures for the planned negotiation. He believes more on facts and figure instead of any random statistics.
  • Clarification and Justification: After implementing the ground rules, Musk focuses on the clarification and justification. Musk always tries to use his all logical points in convincing the negotiators.
  • Problem Solving: With reference to the book Leadership application & skill development, the collaborating conflict style user assertively attempts to jointly resolve the conflict with the best solution agreeable to all parties. It is also called the problem-solving style. Musk always remains concerned about other needs as well and he always tried to find the best solution that is satisfactory to all the organization.
  • Implementation: Musk tries to create the link between different organization and tries to persuade parties to develop agreements. This type of skills is very important in every aspect of organizational life.

Elon Musk is also known as one of the few people who are inventive negotiators. Some of the people who are known as inventive negotiators are Tim Cook (CEO of Apple), Nikola Tesla. From what he has achieved we can say that Elon Musk has been highly successful in building consensus with the people all around the world.

Application of Analysis to Leadership Roles and Responsibilities

For a proposed change or decision, it is always essential to think why the change is needed and how to deal with the change. There are lots of key aspects that I am willing to apply to my carrier from the discussed Leadership Roles and Responsibilities of Elon Musk:

  • I will mainly focus on developing the skills for decision making. Musk decision making capabilities and strategies reflects the perfect example of a good decision maker. As my Company is the global leaders of HVAC products, so the motive of my company is to improve the productivity and the team culture. so, I think my company needs the employer who is good in decision making.
  • My company also has good bargaining skills so I will try to use the Elon musk’s negotiation skills. Without a proper negotiation skill, we cannot accomplish the goal of any organization.


  1. A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK® guide). (2004). Sydney, NSW: SAI Global.
  2. Lussier, R. N., & Achua, C. F. (2016). Leadership: Theory, application, et kill developmenz. Australia: Cengage Learning.
  3. Lahey, K. (2019, February 01). Top 10 in Leadership from Elon Musk. Retrieved from https://www.predictivesuccess.com/blog/elon-musk-top-10-leadership-lessons/
  4. Claiborne, M. (2017, July 11). How Elon Musk Secured Billions From One Investor We All Have Access To. Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/monique-claiborne/how-elon-musk-secured-billions-from-one-investor-w.html
  5. Worley, C. G., & Vick, Y. H. (2017, October 29). Leading and Managing Change – A Peer-Reviewed Academic Articles: GBR. Retrieved from https://gbr.pepperdine.edu/2010/08/leading-and-managing-change/

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Elon Musk Leadership. (2021, Jan 14). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/elon-musk-leadership/