Billionaire, high tech, serial entrepreneur Elon Musk is no outsider when it comes to transforming an industry with newly innovated technologies. He’s done it with Paypal which changed e-commerce dramatically, Tesla Motors which developed the first affordable fully electric car, Space-X which has innovated the reusable space rockets, and now he’s looking to acquire SolarCity the solar panel installation company and merge it together with Tesla Motors. Together these companies will bring solar panels powering Tesla’s batteries for everything in your home, and of course your electric car, TechCrunch (2015). SolarCity (2014) reported that this is very good news for Latin America and the region since SolarCity had recently entered a definitive agreement with ILIOSS one of the largest commercial and industrial solar developers in Mexico who expand and tap into the regional markets of Latin America.
It’s not so much the companies or the merger that can spark innovative technologies into the region, but in fact it is due to the person who is leading these companies to set themselves apart from all others in their related industries. When looking at it from an organizational behavior perspective it is important to note that Elon Musk has set himself in the lines of those visionary leaders like Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, and Bill Gates who brought about technological advancements that have changed and continue to change the way we live. So what is it like to work around with Elon, one of the most known persons in the technology and entrepreneurship realms, his personality and core values have a major role in the overall impact he has brought in this digital age. Using the big give personality model we can draw some conclusion based upon reports and initiatives he’s taken.
- Agreeableness – According to Bloomerg (2014) Musk is not your typical guy who takes things likely, and in the past if we take a look at the history of Tesla Motors, Musk has had major fallouts including with co-founders whereby he has fired and gotten rid of major players when they don’t follow his vision and ideals that he persistently pushes forward. There are mixed opinions by many, but those he continues to work with are those that follow his vision, and those who fail to proceed are often let go.
- Extroversion – Musk is not afraid of public platforms, you can often see him on stages making unveils of new products, charity speaking, connecting with customers, asking for reviews and opinions and taking their feedback into consideration. Anyone in the big business like him has to be very open and welcoming to the general public, and introvert would simply fail in making business deals, and getting messages across to the general public.
- Conscientiousness – Keen observation has shown that Musk is a very dependable and organized person in this very complicated business world of ours. He has laid steady foundations to all companies he manages, bringing the digital age of Paypal, co-founded Tesla Motors, founding Space-X, and being at the head of SolarCity’s new venture plans. Seth (2015) reported on Mashable that Musk works over 20 hours per day.
- Emotion Stability – If there is one daunting trait that Musk has taken from pioneer Steve Jobs is that he a bit harsh with employees. There have been many reports that he often lashes out at employees if they are not following his guidelines. Seth (2015) states that he often demands seemingly impossible things and publicly chews out at employees who fall short of his goals. I personally believe that in a daunting situation where he’s at the top of these major companies, it is a must to be at the top of your game especially when making demands from your employees, otherwise these companies would fall short and simply not be the pioneers as they have set themselves in the market.
- Openness to Experience - “Risk” is word that Musk is too familiar with, critics in the early stages of Tesla always said that an affordable electric car would not be possible. Even at times when his company was on the verge of bankruptcy he poured his own money into the business to have it continue running. Bloomerg (2014) reported that Musk used all his money he made from selling Paypal into Tesla in order to continue funding for designs and advancements, luckily he was able to take the company from the ground up and make it what it is today. He has continuously taken huge business risks, and continues to do so even with the current deals in negotiation to purchase SolarCity.
These are just a few things that can be said about Elon Musk by simply using the big fiver personality model. It helps us get a grasp of the type of person he is, and shows why he has been able to get these companies off the ground to the point of making the profitable. This is the type of person he is and continues to be as an individual in the organizations he’s a part of. His persistence in being dependable, reliable, hardworking and thoroughly organized in what are his next steps have given him his quo status of billionaire, tech serial entrepreneur who continues to drastically shift the industries he involves himself with. It doesn’t matter which of the many companies you look at he has always had the same entrepreneurial behavior in all of them, that displays a strong level of personality who demands the very best of his employees. The many ventures that he has embarked with and successfully launched shows that it is a clear consensus of Musk’s inner drive that is internally caused and not by any external factor that has made him so successful.
Even Elon Musk himself is quite aware that personality and emotions play an important role in the work place. Trammell (2013) stated that Musk said “I look for a positive attitude and are they easy to work with, are people gonna like working with them?”, he understands the essence of personality, values, and attitudes in the workplace. It’s what makes him a truly transformational leader that keeps his companies going in this competitive marketplace. He has mentioned on various occasions that when employees are let go from their jobs it’s because they don’t fall with the core values of his business, and it is best to let them go than wait more. Figgerman (2015) noted than an employee quoted Musks view on firing employees as “The longer you wait to fire someone the longer it has been since you should have fired them.”, though he does mention that those who survive are those he ultimately values and can trust.
The bottom line is that personalities play a huge role in the organization, I can see his personality being that of a really great leader who makes difficult choices but for the betterment of his companies. Sometimes tough choices have to be made in order to keep organizations at it’s best, and it is even better when new employees are hired who share the same core values of the organization if not there will always be less input, and more problems down the line. Personality traits are as important as the skill-sets that one possesses, if we are able to work cohesively with others then we can be productive and create innovative environments that transform both our workplaces and industries that we are a part of. So despite his toughness in making decisions Musk has set himself as a billionaire tech entrepreneur, though some may question if his vision goes hand in hand with ethical standards, values, and morals the rate and magnitude of change he has done and continues to do can be the best argument based on his personality.
published by Alberto J. Matus