Elon Musk's Leadership

So I do a bit of Quora reading here and there. Ok so I actually used to wake up every morning and read it whilst I was in Amsterdam. And, somehow I actually ended up reading a lot about Elon Musk. A lotttt of questions about him.

This answer by Dolly Singh really struck me, especially the part about his reaction, following the failure of a critical SpaceX launch. I've taken out that particular section, in case you want to read just that. It moved me a lot and inspired me that that's the kind of leader I would want to be, if I were to lead people.

This night would forever impact the future of the company, it had the potential to send the company into a downward spiral, from which we may not have ever recovered. A failure in leadership would have destroyed us not only from the eyes of the press or potential consumers but it would have destroyed us internally.

When Elon came out he walked past the press and first addressed the company. Although his exact words escape me in how he started off, the essence of his comments were that:

  • We knew this was going to be hard, it is after all rocket science; then listed the half dozen or so countries who had failed to even successfully execute a first stage flight and get to outer space, a feat we had accomplished successfully that day.
  • Elon has (in his infinite wisdom) prepared for the possibility of an issue with the flight by taking on a significant investment (from Draper Fisher Jurvetson if I recall correctly) providing SpaceX with ample financial resources to attempt 2 more launches; giving us security until at least flight 5 if needed.
  • And that we need to pick ourselves up, and dust ourselves off, because we have a lot of work to do. Then he said, with as much fortitude and ferocity as he could muster after having been awake for like 20+ hours by this point that, “"For my part, I will never give up and I mean never,” and that if we stick with him, we will win.

I think most of us would have followed him into the gates of hell carrying suntan oil after that. It was the most impressive display of leadership that I have ever witnessed. Within moments the energy of the building went from despair and defeat to a massive buzz of determination as people began to focus on moving forward instead of looking back. 

If you'd like to read the full answer, by Dolly Singh:

Read Dolly Singh's answer to What is it like to work with Elon Musk? on Quora