Elon Musk sent out two emails in October, revealing the ‘carrot and stick’ leadership style he uses to run electric vehicle company Tesla.
It is easy to disassociate the enigmatic, Twitter-posting Elon Musk from the day-to-day management of the Tesla factories, but the first of the emails, which were first reported by CNBC, paints the image of an approachable boss concerned about his subordinates’ work comfort.
That email, sent on Oct. 3 and subject-lined “Music in the Factory,” came in response to an associate’s note asking Musk if people could listen to music from one ear bud or listen to background ambient music in the factories. Noting that this was “totally cool”, Musk gave Tesla workers the go-ahead to play music in the factories and add “any little touches that make work more enjoyable.”
“If there are other things that you think would improve your day, please let me know. I care very much that you look forward to coming to work every day!” he wrote in the email, which was addressed to everyone in the company.
Musk showed a sterner leadership style a day later, however. In an Oct. 4 email subject-lined “please note,” he gave explicit instructions for his subordinates to follow when he commanded them to do something. They have to either:
“1. Email me back to explain why what I said was incorrect. Sometimes, I’m just plain wrong!
2. Request further clarification if what I said was ambiguous.
3. Execute the directions.”
Failure to perform one of the three actions would result in termination, Musk noted.
The email closed with a “Thank you, Elon.” revealing that even a Twitter-ranting, meme-lord billionaire can abide by email etiquette.
Musk has a penchant for mass communicating his visions. Last month, Musk tweeted out against the proposed billionaire tax saying it would get in the way of his vision of getting humanity to Mars. Days later, Musk challenged the UN World Food Program (WFP), saying, “If WFP can describe on this Twitter thread exactly how $6B will solve world hunger, I will sell Tesla stock right now and do it.” The challenge was answered by David Beasley, the director of the WFP, with a four-point plan. By that point Musk had apparently moved on, posting a poll on Twitter to ask his followers whether he should sell 10% of his Tesla holdings.
Twitter voted yes and Elon Musk followed his word and sold off a tenth of his shares, though filings disclosed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) revealed the Tesla CEO had plans in place as early as September to offload a substantial portion of his holdings.
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