Elon could Use Emotional Intelligence.

3D Tesla logo

Outdated leaders say, “If you don’t like it, find somewhere else to work.” We, adults, do not take this treatment well, but corporate speak is still here. As children, we are reared with familiar parental adage:

“You can sit at the table until you eat what’s in front of you.”

“My house, my rules”

Some look fondly on those times, attaching moral lessons to these experiences. Why? Because our ego is the ultimate psychological safety net. It assigns a high value to hardship.

Authors like Daniel Pink’s book Drive, have spoken about the higher cognitive complexities of today’s workforce and how to motivate correctly. An updated complex workforce needs updated leadership. This idea of a new kind of workforce is not new, Peter Drucker in 1958 forecasted the evolution of the worker who uses theoretical and analytical knowledge to produce ideas and concepts rather than products to be manufactured or mass-produced> It could be said that this was the zenith of the white-collar class.

Since this observation by Drucker, many other workplace modern voices such as Cal Newport author of Deep Work and Slow Productivity have said that having the inability to define what it is to measure productivity when it is knowledge-based weather than widgets produced, places tactics of working longer hours and being visibly supervised as the main measurements of this work. We have moved little beyond this as the trope from the arcane business playbook.

Mr. Musk’s leadership strategy to get people to return to work “Return to working from the office 40 hours a week or be fired.”

Since his proclamation, the headlines now read: Amazon and Microsoft recruiters called for unhappy Tesla workers to join their companies.

In the Harvard Business Review article, an expert in workplace culture 

Jennifer Moss highlights this in her piece The Pandemic Changed us. Now Companies Have to Change Too.

“According to a recent study by Ernst & Young (EY), 54% of workers left a previous job because their boss wasn’t empathetic to their struggles at work, and 49% said employers were unsympathetic to their personal lives. This “business as usual” mentality caused a ripple effect that some experts believe may have contributed to the Great Resignation.” (Moss, 2022)

It’s easy to age into leadership, thinking that we have paid our dues. Some leaders allow their ego to move unchecked and speak without Emotional Intelligence to those they lead. There can be consequences for this entitlement.

Failing at EQ costs time, money, and talent

  1. Top performers are likely to work for the competition and dedicate more to the employer they believe wants them. This generates ingenuity to be used against his brand.
  2. The amount of institutional knowledge will not immediately be replaced. The higher cognitive skill set of workers in this echelon is not always readily available without more time and money. This can burn out fellow workers left to bear the load.
  3. Former employees are likely to have negative feelings and will tell other talented professionals about their experiences.
  4. The employees that we’re unable to leave could have secondary negative impacts on productivity or morale. It is a slow leak that is not noticed until the damage is substantial. These lagging indicators seriously affect a company’s work culture.

Questions can be the key to using a more emotionally intelligent mindset.

Simplistic questions (starting with self) are an excellent start to developing a base for emotional Intelligence. Yes, it is much more complex and can be broken down into as many as eighteen categories. I included just a few for reference.

  1. Would you appreciate being treated this way? (self-awareness+empathy)
  2. Did you think before you spoke? (impulse control)
  3. Is there another way to achieve your goal with less friction? (problem solving+reality testing)
  4. If you got it wrong, will you apologize? (flexibility+self-regulation)

Money and status might insulate Elon from the direct effects of his actions, But I ask you to consider the millions of leaders and employees trying to have a better day at work. Are you a help or a hindrance?

Lead intelligently

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