Leadership Spotlight: Elon Musk

Elon Musk is an internationally-known businessman, inventor, and CEO with an estimated net worth exceeding $13 billion. He has been ranked by a number of prominent publications as one of the wealthiest and one of the most powerful people on Earth.
What many people don’t realize is that his leadership style differs from other magnates of the business world. Mr. Musk’s style can best be described as “transformational leadership”. His revolutionary approach to a variety of needs has given himself and his companies a firm foothold across market sectors. Read on to learn details of Mr. Musk’s transformational leadership style and how that translates into success.

What is Transformational Leadership?

In any leadership role, the guidance of others is a critical component. In transformational leadership, there is so much more than mere guidance. A transformational leader has several key attributes, including:
  • The ability to put together a team
  • Identifying something that needs changing (the transformation)
  • Creating a vision that takes the change from idea to reality
  • Bringing the change to life with the help of the committed members of the team

In Elon Musk’s case, several of his more ambitious projects were the result of identifying a particular need, whether it was technology-based or was geared toward environmental stewardship. When he founded the company that eventually became PayPal, Mr. Musk had the vision to understand that an online payment processing solution would support the shift toward Web-based shopping. Similarly, his work in space exploration arose from his vision that government-sponsored space programs were often too expensive and too poorly managed from a financial perspective. Musk believed that the private sector could find more affordable ways to launch and recover space vehicles.

Believing in the Vision

A great leader can rally his or her subordinates and inspire them to carry ideas from thoughts to fruition. Elon Musk has received acclaim from his peers as well as his employees by having the ability to get people to deeply believe in his visions. He approaches every project with an infectious passion. He can flesh out abstract concepts to the point that the people working on his team understand the complexities and prepare solutions for overcoming challenges.

Take Tesla, for example. While electric cars were already being produced by several major automakers, Elon Musk had the vision to create affordable cars and the infrastructure needed to support them. Tesla revolutionized the electric car industry, and it plans to sell electric powertrain components to other automakers in a bid to get more electric-powered vehicles on the road. Musk knew that there would be incredible challenges in taking on the large automakers, but he and his team were able to take a vision and prepare elegant solutions. Today, Tesla is worth about $22 billion in total assets, thanks to Elon Musk, his transformational leadership, and his dedication to solving today’s problems.

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