Does Elon Musk Have 21st Century Leadership Skills?
A Crash Course in What Not To Do and What You Can Learn from Elon Musk’s Blunders
Learning from the Mess at Twitter
I could not have asked for a better teachable moment for 21st century leadership skills then what is currently happening at Twitter. To describe it as a complete dumpster fire would be an understatement.
But the situation does highlight why having 21st century leadership skills is a key to success.
The fact is even Elon Musk, a multi-billionaire, has shown he has no idea how to be a 21st century leader. But Musk’s blunders gives me an opportunity as an educator to underscore the importance of learning 21st century leadership skills.
Therefore, if you want to learn from Elon Musk’s mistakes and also see how you can avoid making the same mistakes, hit the subscribe button and continue reading this article.
What is Happening at Twitter HQ?
If you haven’t been following all the news, let’s first catch you up to speed. First, Elon Musk paid $44 billion for Twitter, despite most experts believing the company is only worth one-third that price. Second, Elon has made many posts about how he wants to restore Free Speech on the platform.
And lastly, since he has officially taken over the company nearly 70% of employees have been let go or resigned. In addition, major advertisers have notified Twitter that it’s pausing its advertising buys on the platform.
All in all, not a good start to the Elon Musk CEO era.
But what’s the real reason Twitter is in free fall?
The 6 Objectives of Leadership
If we want to take a deep dive into the mess at Twitter, I need to make sure you understand the key concept behind 21st century leadership skills. That means, you need to know The 6 Objectives of Leadership.
In order to see if Elon Musk has 21st century leadership skills or not, you will need this list to compare his decisions against the six objectives.
Let me outline the six objectives first, before we get into why they are important:
- S.M.A.R.T. Goals
Why The 6 Objectives Of Leadership Matter?
If you are thinking this list of six objectives is made up or arbitrary, you would be wrong. The truth is that I have been teaching 21st century leadership skills for the last decade.
In fact, you may not know that in 2011, I became one of the first superintendents in America to adopt a 21st century skills curriculum for the K12 district I ran.
What’s important to understand is that I have been working inside the K12 system for 20 years, in addition to doing educational research for 20+ years as well.
The list of six objectives was developed and field tested in the classroom and in real world situations. When we start to compare Elon Musk’s real world decisions, you will start to see why following the six objectives can help you get an “edge” in life and your career.
So instead of talking about the six objectives, why don’t we dive into how Elon should have followed them in the real world.
Six Steps Elon Should Have Followed at Twitter
Before we get started, it’s important you are aware of this growing trend in America. What I’m talking about is the idea that “faking it until you make it” is now a thing.
The problem with this idea is that it promotes “imposter syndrome.” As we go through each Musk decision and compare it to the list of six objectives, I want you to see how it’s easier to learn 21st century leadership skills than to “fake” them in the first place.
Therefore, let’s get started. If Elon Musk knew The 6 Objectives of Leadership, he would have followed the following six steps and could have avoided most of the major chaos he now faces at Twitter.
Let’s begin with the first objective.
If Elon Musk learned The 6 Objectives of Leadership, he would know that all leaders must begin with developing a vision before doing anything else or making any future decisions.
The single biggest mistake Elon made and keeps making is that he has not developed a vision for Twitter
What is Elon’s vision for Twitter?
That’s the $44 billion question and no one knows the answer.
If Elon would stop tweeting, stop giving ultimatums, stop talking and stop making decisions and just focus on developing his vision for the platform, Twitter can start to turn around.
The problem is that Elon won’t slow down and figure that out.
If Elon Musk learned The 6 Objectives of Leadership, then he would know that step two is developing S.M.A.R.T. Goals.
Why is this important?
The answer happens to be the difference between 21st century leadership and the old way of being a leader. In the old days, leaders felt they could do whatever they wanted and people had no choice but to follow or be left behind. Except, that’s not how the 21st century works anymore.
People do not have to follow Elon. If Elon makes the wrong decision, users will leave Twitter and Employees will quit, which is exactly what happened.
The problem is that Elon cannot make any goals for Twitter because there is no vision. The more he refuses to do step one, the more he puts his company into jeopardy.
He is not the only person to make this mistake. In fact, most people skip over step one and go straight to goal setting. The reason is that setting goals is easy to do. Think about your New Years resolutions.
The problem is that making a goal without tying it to a vision means that it will most likely never happen. How long does it take for people to give up on their New Years resolutions?
What 21st century leaders know is that when you develop a clear vision, it makes it easier to create goals that people can follow and execute. Why put the cart before the horse?
The longer Elon takes to develop his vision, the longer he holds Twitter in limbo.
Which brings us to step three.
If Elon Musk learned The 6 Objectives of Leadership, he would know that step three is called responsibility because only selfless leaders are responsible.
Who in society are responsible people? The answer is people who put others before themselves. Parents are responsible when they put their kids before themselves. Teachers are responsible when they put their students above themselves. Firefighters are responsible when they put the lives of people in burning buildings before themselves.
Selfless leadership is a cornerstone to our democracy. The problem is that old world leaders decided to stop being selfless and started being more selfish. That’s why we no longer look up to people in our society. That’s why people no longer trust our elected officials.
Elon made the same mistake. Insead of being selfless, Elon decided to be selfish and follow his ego. It was a huge miscalculation on his part.
Here’s what Elon should have done. If he followed the six steps, he should have developed a vision for Twitter first, then communicated that vision to the employees at Twitter and then asked them if they support his vision or not?
Why is that so difficult?
If Elon Musk learned The 6 Objectives of Leadership, then he would know step four is management, which means making Twitter more organized.
To be fair, Twitter was disorganized before Elon officially took over. The former CEO was just as bad as Elon and also had no 21st century leadership skills.
But that’s no excuse for Elon’s mistakes.
Let’s go through the first four steps again. If Elon was following the six objectives, he would have first developed a vision, which would then allow him to create specific goals for Twitter to execute, he could then become a selfless leader by putting the needs of the company above his own and lastly he could begin to re-organize the company and its processes.
What is actually happening over at Twitter?
The truth is that Elon is not following these steps at all. Nothing Elon has done at Twitter follows a 21st century leadership model. He is just acting like an old leader. And Elon is learning very quickly that the old ways of doing things FAIL in the 21st century.
Which leads us into step five.
If Elon Musk learned The 6 Objectives of Leadership, then he would already know step five is support, which means learning how to LISTEN to people better.
Why is support the secret to leadership?
The answer is because 21st century leaders know that “LISTENING” is the best way to lead people. What happens when you listen to people as opposed to talking “at” people?
People want to be heard. Leaders who recognize that fact, make it part of their everyday routine. That’s why 21st century leaders learn how to become expert “LISTENERS.”
Do you know how to listen?
One of the biggest “ah-ha moments” in the 21st Century Beginner Leadership 101 Course that I developed at Leaf Academy is when people open up Module #4.
Inside this module is the listening activity. If you want to open your eyes to a whole new way of seeing the world, learn how to listen better. What most people don’t realize is that our brains are not capable of talking and listening at the same time. Go ahead and try to do both at the same time.
When you start to speak, your brain actually goes on autopilot.
Have you ever lost your train of thought while speaking to someone? Why do you think that happens? That’s why actors memorize their lines and public speakers use scripts and teleprompters.
Elon’s Big Mistake
Who is Elon listening to?
Elon’s big mistake is that he didn’t listen to the employees and he didn’t listen to the users. If Elon wants to be a 21st century leader, then he needs to learn how to become a better listener.
Now take a look at your own life. Could you learn how to listen better? Would it improve your life? How would listening better at work help your career? How would listening better at home, help your marriage? How would listening better to friends, help your relationships?
This brings us to the last step.
If Elon Musk learned The 6 Objectives of Leadership, then he would know the last step is reflection.
Why do 21st century leaders need to reflect? What’s the benefit?
The truth is that people make a lot of mistakes. Elon is not immune to mistakes. The issue is that Elon could have avoided many of the mistakes he made as Twitter CEO.
Do you see the huge problem?
The reason that 21st century leaders need to make reflection a part of their normal routine is because other people cannot trust a leader who makes the same mistakes over and over again. They also cannot trust a leader who never learns from previous mistakes.
Would you follow someone who makes the same mistakes and never learns?
If Elon was self-reflecting right now he would see that he is on an ego-trip. That means he is being a selfish leader, not a selfless leader. He is also not listening to people.
If Elon was self-reflecting he would realize he needs start following the six objectives.
Learning How to Reflect
When you start to make reflection part of your normal routine, you start to learn how to look at the world differently. Let’s reflect right now on what Elon has done over at Twitter.
If Elon was sitting down to reflect on the situation, he would realize he is rushing to make decisions. What he needs to do is slow down and develop his vision for Twitter.
What does he want Twitter to be? What does he see for the future of Twitter?
Until he does that, why is he making any decisions?
If he was a 21st century leader, he could stop himself from making more bad decisions.
Now reflect on your own life? What is your vision for your life?
Have you thought about it before?
Can you see how developing your vision would help you outline specific goals that you could achieve? Once you make those goals, you can focus on being selfless to the people you love? And not only that but, you can get more organized once you have a vision and specific goals to follow.
If you want to stop being disorganized and living in a life of chaos and confusion, follow the six steps.
Taking the First Step Toward 21st Century Leadership
Hopefully you have learned a lot from this article. That was my goal. I wanted to use a real world situation to show you how the six objectives make a huge difference in avoiding mistakes and making your life better.
I have been teaching these skills for the last decade. They have helped thousands of people turn their life around or put their life on track. If you have a dream, then you need to follow the six steps to make your dream come true.
Stop wishing and hoping for a miracle, when you learn 21st century leadership skills, you actually become that MIRACLE yourself.
If you want to learn 21st century leadership skills, what you can do is visit Leaf Academy, the first online school for 21st century skills.
Welcome to Leaf Academy
Leaf Academy offers Free Webinars and Freebies, as well as paid online 21st century courses to help Millennials and Gen…
If you follow the link above, it take you directly to Leaf Academy, where you will be able to watch FREE Webinars and sign up for Freebies sent directly to your email. You can also register for the 21st century Beginner Leadership 101 Course. This is the course that will teach you the six steps that Elon Musk should have followed.
Stop waiting for someone else to come save you, start doing what’s best for you and your family. If you have a dream, take this course and learn how to develop that dream into a real vision. Once you finish step one, just follow the next five steps.
You got this!
I hope to see you at Leaf Academy!!
About the Author:
D. Scott Schwartz, M.Ed. can be found on Twitter and Instagram with the handle “@theschooldoc.” He hosts a LIVE weekly podcast on IG called “Tuesdays with Schwartz” which discusses 21st century skills and how to be more successful in life. He does consulting work for Education Development Institute, an education think tank that helps businesses and schools maximize their potential in the new millennium.