Beyond The Charisma: Elon Musk as a Transformational Leader

The history is full of “Great Man” that are genuinely great at making people believe, follow and love them. However, the world has been changing rapidly due to the changes in society, expectations, technology, and opportunities. Now is the era in which leaders cannot lead one way and organizations cannot be set in a one way. Change and variety are in the center of the world of present and future. That’s why the leaders need to lead the change and variety. Perfect discipline and structures are not enough anymore. Charisma also needs to be compounded with additional qualities in leaders’ profiles. The world of change requires leaders being not only charismatic but also transformational. Transformation is the only way to keep pace with the world of change and ambiguity. The world needs various types of leaders but there is a leader who has built a new leadership by interpreting the Great Man’s characteristics in developing world: Elon Musk.




He has great mindsets for present and future in addition to his charismatic, outstanding, authentic, visionary sides. What makes  Elon Musk a transformational leader are his innovator, collaborative, challenger, risk- taker, self- aware sides.




Elon Musk does not lead people by giving directives because he knows that the organizational success derives from the collaboration, participation, and support of the leader to the employees. Teamwork is the way of how his companies work. “He leads employees by doing rather than telling”. In addition, unlike traditional leaders, he believes that he should work more than his employees. He states that if the employees work 40 hours in a week, the leaders should work more than a hundred hours weekly. He is hardworking and collaborative in teamwork.



Motivator, Inspirer, and Visionary


A great leader has to motivate their all employees even in difficult circumstances and tasks. Elon Musk appeals to both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation by providing vested benefits, good salaries; also with a strong mission of work and very clear and satisfying goals. He claims that the leaders need to have quite fascinating purposes for their companies and organizations because he knows it is the only way to attract the attention of talented employees from different companies. He also states the employees should believe the leader is the right person to work with.


He has been setting very clear but challenging goals which are to transform three industries: energy, automobile, and space for himself and his companies. At the beginning of his journey after selling Paypal, no one believed his “crazy goals”; however he was knowing how to make the employees believe in and follow him. Now, the employees in his companies feel that being a part of his teams cannot be explained. They know what they do and why they make a huge effort in these companies: to change the world, sustain the world and make humanity reach beyond this planet. Are these goals challenging? Yes, but they are believed in and empowered by Musk and they feel that “they are able”.



Talent Hunter

A leader should analyze the people’s abilities, strengths and weaknesses to understand what they can contribute to their organizations. Elon Musk is an absolute talent- hunter.  He believes that he is not the perfect person in his companies because hiring people who are smarter than him is his principle in employing process. Hiring smarter and talented people is the way to achieve beyond what company reach so far.



Risk taker- Challenger


Musk does not just have missions. He converted his missions into action even he took a huge amount of risks. After sales of Paypal, he got money around 170 million dollars. He also put a few million dollars from his pocket and started up three businesses in three different industries. He put all of his fortune and what he has for his purposes and started challenging. The success of the companies depends on this risk- taker soul. As a leader, Elon Musk inspires his employees to challenge and push the limits and take risks.




The leaders of the world of technology have to internalize the importance of innovation. The organizations have to innovate- to take the present a step further- to survive. What Elon Musk tries to do via his companies are all about innovation. His companies work around innovating new solutions, products, and services. Tesla’s electric vehicles, the rockets of SpaceX’ s and the works of SolarCity are the results of the innovator vision of the Musk and his teams.



Great “Self”



Musk has been building himself with very crucial values and determining his ways and missions around these values. He has carried about always-learning in his way. Before setting up the businesses in energy, automobile, and space industries, he read lots of books, articles to develop his self-knowledge about these sectors. He is continuing to learn new information and get experience in various topics, sectors and advances his self-knowledge. His viewpoints toward learning, exposure, and experience also inspire his teams and employees.



 Self- awareness

Great leaders are aware of their capabilities, attitudes and behaviors and what they should do according to their values, purposes, and desires. Musk is a self- aware leader who steps further by being conscious of his values, perceptions, weaknesses, and strengths. He can control his emotions and thoughts in creating and work process. Knowing what he wants and how he feels allows him to set clear goals for both himself and his companies.



Elon Musk has an important mark on today’s and future’s world with his vision, missions and great teams. He is a transformational leader who has understood the need of the world of change by innovating, challenging, risk-taking and questioning the status-quo. As a leader, he has achieved to assure his employees that the challenging goals are not impossible. The employees in his companies are motivated, inspired and believed by his clear, compelling goals and his decisive, determinants steps.


Today, he and his teams follow the missions to make the world more sustainable and make society to reach beyond the planet.


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