34. Elon Musk and leadership

34. Elon Musk and leadership

If Steve Jobs and Bill Gates started a new era in technology and personal computing, here is the guy that has changed the way the entire tech industry operates: Elon Musk. He is the CEO of both Tesla (makes electric car) and Space X (makes space rocket). I’ve just read his biography and it was quite a fascinating read. He has a brilliant intenlligence and eccentric mindset that enabled him to go deep in aeronautics and physics, to create stunning electric car that can drive by itself and a space rocket that can land itself back to earth. SpaceX is the first private company to ever send a rocket and and it is much affordable compared to traditional rocket, which brought rising hope for personal space travel. He literally made our childhood dreams come true.

Through the book I’ve come to get more inside story of how these two companies ended up surviving the near-brink bankruptcy. And what enabled people to work 80-100 hours a week to produce space rocket and the electric car in such a short period of time? It was his mission. It is simple: Sending people to Mars. (because he believes earth might not become habitable)

However, his remarkable accomplishments came at a cost: his employees. He demanded nothing but perfection from his employees. Many who didn’t measured up to that were fired immediately, even those who were loyal to his company for a long time. Many former employees confessed they felt like they were like “ammunition”, used for a specific purpose until used up and discarded. His devotion to the mission inspired many people to work hard but the method of accomplishing it came at the sacrifice of his people.

Similarly, we as church strive to fulfill God’s mission, which is sending people to Heaven. Both missions seem to benefit the humanity but what I love about ours is fulfilling it came at the cost of our CEO, namely God himself. To fulfill his mission of saving the humanity, he humbled himself and came down to be like us and ultimately sacrificed himself on the cross. I cannot be more happy to work for this CEO and his mission because Jesus loves people to death. He leaves the 99 sheep to find the one lost sheep (Luke 15:4), will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. (Isa 42:3) He does not sacrifice people for his vision, he sacrifices himself for the vision that ultimately benefits us.

After reading the book, I have enormous respect for what Elon Musk has accomplished. But I honestly do not want to be like him. I’m inspired but not attracted. Character is what ultimately draws people and bring the best out of them. Drivenness can be good but if it gets excessive, it drives people crazy. Many who worked hard for Elon did so out of fear. But millions of people all around the world are wholeheartedly following Jesus by sharing the goodnews of Jesus and bringing people to Christ, not out of fear nor pressure but purely out of love for him. This is what servant leadership does.