Latest Blog Posts

<strong>Elon Musk’s Management Style – Worthy of Imitation?</strong>

Space X, Tesla, Neuralink, The Boring Company and Twitter have one thing in common. They are or were founded, acquired, or managed by one of the world’s richest men, Elon Musk. To achieve this, you would naturally expect him to have a brilliant management style; after all, surely he must be doing something right? This blog will explore the pros and cons of Musk’s leadership style and determine whether he is worthy of imitation.


Musk’s management style is best defined as transformational. He believes there is a better way of doing everything and sets his sights on achieving constant improvement. For example, Tesla cars often (and were the first cars too) receive ‘over the air’ updates to incrementally enhance the driving and user experience. Another example, Space X is the first commercial company to manufacture the world’s first orbital-class reusable rocket. By reusing the most expensive parts of the rocket, the organisation can drive down the cost of space access. These are two examples of how transformational management can be effective.

On the other hand, being transformative can have adverse effects. Within his first week of acquiring the social media platform Twitter, Musk slashed the workforce], by some estimates, up to half of the company – 3,700 employees with little notice. The redundancies were due to the company losing around four million pounds per day. The outcome is that Twitter will undoubtedly save substantial amounts of income; however, it will have harmed or damaged the lives of many staff. Instead of taking a unilateral approach, managers should be keen to consult with colleagues; while this may take longer, it may generate new and innovative ideas which may similarly save money.

Pro – The ability to constantly make improvements

Pro – Staff look for ways to be innovative in imitation of their manager

Con – Constant change can be very unsettling for staff

Con – Unilateral changes can cause resentment among staff


Elon Musk is well known for being extremely productive. A leaked email to his companies stipulates six rules all staff should follow to ensure productivity:

1) Avoid large meetings

2) Leave a meeting if you’re not contributing

3) Forget the chain of command

4) Be clear, not clever

5) Ditch frequent meetings

6) Use common sense

Again, Tesla is a brilliant example of productivity. The company could not meet its production targets, and the traditional methods of manufacturing cars were insufficient. Under Musk’s leadership, the company invested in automating its production process and now is ten years ahead of its competitors and has become one of the most profitable car manufacturers in the world.

However, the constant drive for ultimate productivity can be detrimental. On November 16th, 2022, the Washington Post obtained an email from Elon to his new Twitter staff. Employees were asked to ‘Commit to a new “hardcore” Twitter or leave the company with severance pay.’ Musk reportedly went on to write: “This will mean working long hours at high intensity,” and “Only exceptional performance will constitute a passing grade.” Relentless high-performance expectations can lead to severe mental and physical health concerns and, most likely, burnout.  They can also exclude employees who have a lot to contribute, but require a degree of flexibility in their working hours to do so (e.g. due to childcare or a disability), and as such risk being discriminatory.

Pro – A highly productive workforce

Pro – Likely the organisation will be more profitable

Con – High employee turnaround

Con – Increased potential for staff burnout.


In March 2020, the UK Prime Minister gave the nation the direction to stay at home due to Covid-19. Since that point, how organisations and individuals work has changed radically. Flexible working and home working have become the norm where they were once seen as a privilege. While these forms of work do have their negatives, they also can be extremely beneficial for individuals. So where does Musk stand with flexible working?

‘The social media platform’s new owner told staff in an email, seen by the Guardian, that its “road ahead is arduous and will require intense work to succeed.” The Tesla CEO added that working from home would no longer be allowed except in special circumstances, with such cases personally vetted by Musk. “Remote work is no longer allowed, unless you have a specific exception. Managers will send the exception lists to me for review and approval,” Musk wrote.’ The same policy is in place for Tesla.

Elon is not the only leader taking the same stance on home working. What are the pros and cons of Musk’s flexible – or lack thereof – approach to working?

Pro – Staff have clear expectations of the organisation’s arrangements

Pro – Inflexibility can aid productivity

Con – Builds a paternal relationship between management and staff

Con – Singular view doesn’t take into consideration the broader picture of individuals’ lives (childcare and cost of living).

We have reviewed three elements of Elon Musk’s management style as well as the pros and cons; is it worthy of imitation? In part, potentially yes; some of his companies have shown financial success, and as we have seen above, there are potential advantages to his approaches. However, should organisations follow his strategies, they might not be able to retain or attract top talent, and may face legal challenges.

Elon’s clear, communitive, innovative, and productive management style can be imitated but one would recommend that it’s tamed to ensure staff are treated like humans, not high-performance machines!

If you would like to provide your staff with management training or ensure your culture is fit for the modern working age, speak to a member of the ViewHR team.