Using Leadership to Improve Ethical Performance – Elon Musk

Five Questions to ask Elon Musk to determine his views of Motivation, Ethical Leadership and Performance

  1. How would you define leadership?
  2. As a leader, what do you do when people on your team are not pulling their weight?
  3. When and how was your leadership skills and capacity tested the most?
  4. Describe your personal actions by which you convey to your staff that ethics/ethical behavior is a high priority with you, and that you expect it to be a high priority with your staff?
  5. How have you influenced employees to follow your strategic vision for the organization?

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Analysis and Assessment of the Leadership, Motivation, and Ethical Values of Elon Musk and its impact in the ethical performance of the organization

Leaders that are keen on the long-term benefits, consequences, drawbacks of their decision within an organization embody the construct of ethical leadership.This is because their decisions reflect respect for individuals, willingness to take responsibility for the decisions and actions, ambition that strives for fairness and a genuine concern for the greater good(Mihelic, Lipicnik, & Tekavcic, 2010).As a leader and a visionary, Elon Musk is motivated and by extension inspires motivation in his employees by seeing possibilities even where none is directly visible. Based on the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs it is clear to see that the need for self-actualization; achievement and fulfillment, is one of the most potent driving force for the serial entrepreneur and his team(Eccles & Wigfield, 2002). While responding to the question on when his leadership capacity and skills were most tested, he mentioned that his desire to ‘never give up’ on any of his projects and the ability to safeguard the livelihoods of those who work for him ensured that he stayed committed to his mission.

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Elon Musk came across as an ethical leader since he serves as a role model for his employees, where he sets high standards of ethics, product development, and work ethic, ensuring that his behavior and actions are consistently in accordance with these standards(Militaru & Zanfir, 2012). Applying the trait theory of leadership, Elon demonstrated integrity and exhibited courage, trustworthiness, and honesty traits that are characteristic of a seasoned leader. Applying transformational theory of leadership, Elon’s leadership style fits the four strategies characteristic of transformational leaders: vision, social architect, trust, and the deployment of self in a creative manner(Brown & Trevino, 2006).Ethical standards, moral conviction, and values feature prominently Elon’s style of leadership where employees are inspired to engage with their roles and responsibilities in a morally uplifting way(Militaru & Zanfir, 2012). The ability to move his employees towards higher standards of moral responsibility ensures the quality of products developed and produced by Elon’s companies is not compromised hence delivering on the vision while remaining competitive.

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As a leader who sees opportunities in emerging industries and seeks to leverage the low competition and high growth potential, that is characteristic of the emerging industries to maximize the impact of his companies. In this regard, Elon exhibits an inferior perception of human resource management in relation to his superior focus on product quality and the intricacies ofmaking products more compelling to customers. Nevertheless, Elon is keen to hire and retain the right people on his work force while letting go of employees that are not a good fit for any of his companies. This entails focusing on great talent while attracting them and retaining them with a platform where they can express their creativity in a leading-edge manner.

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Comparison of Elon’s point of view about leadership with my own perception of it

From the interview, I realized that Elon Musk and I held fast to the notion that a leader is always learning, a process that helps to not only gain knowledge but also understand concepts in order to create impact in the organization and in the space within which the organization operates. Elon’s responses made it clear that a highly cultivated work ethic is top on his priority list, a point I agree with since a leader of an organization, one must lead by example and that implies that to set standards for others, one must be the hardest working employee in the organization they lead. Be that as it may, I disagree with the notion that for one to excel as a leader that one must be a hardcore workaholic putting nearly a hundred hours of work every week. The benefits of attaining a work life balance have been widely documented and I believe that all employees and their leaders should strive to find the balance if creativity and productivity are to be enhanced(Militaru & Zanfir, 2012). That said, I agree that leaders and employees alike should put in as much time as they want in the work that they love because then the chances of burnout are greatly diminished.

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After the interview, I found that both Elon and I shared the ideal that leaders should always have the big picture in mind and should play the role of steering the organization towards achieving its vision in the specific areas it has chosen to work in. This points to the ability of a leader to take calculated risks, forfeit short-term results in favor of achieving long-term goals and sustainable success. Based on the spirit of entrepreneurship, Elon like myself, views motivation as a factor of demand and need based innovation, inspiring employees to solve problems in a rewarding and fun way.

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