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What Leadership Gurus Get Wrong About Elon Musk’s Behavior

Written by Shukuru Amos

Tanzania's most followed marketer on LinkedIn. Content Alchemist; building and executing content strategies for B2B brands, Founders and Solopreneurs.

When you combine things you’re not supposed to combine, you become interesting and easily stand out from the pool of sameness.

What makes Bruce Lee interesting is his rare combination of philosophy, martial arts, and striking thoughts. There wouldn’t be much thrill to the Bruce Lee personality if he niched down and lesser focused on just martial arts.

The average person is either good at one thing or made to believe they should be good at, and talk about only one thing. That’s the norm. So when the few among us single themselves out as multi-talented with diverse interests, we immediately take notice.

And they reap the benefit of recognition and building a brand. This is especially important in the digital economy whose currency is attention.

You want people to look at you and curiously say “Who is this guy/gal”? And the best way to do that is to combine things you’re not supposed to combine. By refusing to walk into laid expectations of you.

The people who don’t get this are executives and management gurus.

Consider the chief executive officers of corporations: they not just look the part, but they even look the same. And, worse, when you listen to them talk, they will sound the same, down to the same vocabulary and metaphors. ~Nassim Taleb

What executives get wrong about Musk’s Social Rhetoric

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Who does this?!

Senior executives and management gurus who criticize Elon Musk for his erratic/childish behavior miss one point. Once you become a billionaire like that, you stop being human. People write you off as you already have made it. You stop being relatable.

There’s a common thread of human hardship and suffering that connects us all. But as a billionaire, everyone assumes you’re exempted from that thread. Even your rags-to-riches story stops to hold water at some point. You’re closer to a comic book character than someone with real feelings.

It is even worse if you sound like you were downloaded from Deloitte, speaking in perfect corporate discourse.

No one sees you as like them. Just a lifeless corporate figure who is incredibly irrelevant outside the corporate climate.

So how do you make yourself relatable?

The only way to make yourself human again is, as Mr. Musk does, either by working on your sense of humor or flaunting your personality flaws. Make people say “he’s just like us”.

Even better, make people say “That’s just Elon being Elon.” Cancel culture will leave you alone.

It is about signaling what you can get away with

The highest status of a free man is indicated by voluntarily adopting the manners of the lowest class. People who use foul language on social media are sending an expensive signal that they are free— they don’t have a boss to answer to. An employee, executives included, tends to watch what they say on social media –most just stop posting.

The element of risk

The best rewards come from taking risks, not playing safe. Anything a person does that involves risk tends to inspire trust. Speaking your mind in the age of outrage and calling out is risky. Executives who subdued their opinions are forgotten once they retire.

It is also about skin in the game

People who are a proven asset of getting things done dont give a fuck about whether they look or sound like their profession. Their proven competence dwarfs any doubt about their look or choice of words. On the contrary, incompetent or fraudsters compensate for it by looking the part.

I think I will end here.

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