In a recent Forbes article, Jeff Dyer and Hal Gregersen noted that Tesla has 2 critical components in building their success – innovation and leadership. Let’s look at 5 ways Musk leads innovation and how you can use them as 5 steps to leverage your innovative leadership power.
1. Find Your Purpose and Passion
One of the driving forces for Elon Musk is fighting global warming. In his 2013 TED Talk Musk remarks that “we have no choice” but to create innovations to save the planet. He is purposeful and passionate in his quest.
What is your purpose in leading? How passionate are you in your purpose?
2. Dream Big
In my first book, Chevettes to Corvettes: Unleashing the Ultimate Small Business I wrote that “Dreaming is the emotional first step of a vision.” But too often, leaders quit dreaming because they start managing, playing it safe. Musk is an excellent example of a leader who has gigantic ideas and is willing to ask, “What if I did . . .?” and “Why not?” Musk is dreaming so big that nothing seems to be beyond his imagination. Whether it is building the world’s largest battery factory or reversing climate change. When others are saying, “That will never work” or criticizing him for not meeting his lofty goals, he continues to think bigger than most everyone else.
How big are you dreaming?
3. Ask Big Questions
When we are grounded in a purpose we are passionate about and willing to dream big enough that we ask big questions.
“Tesla dreams big because it asks and answers the big questions.” Forbes 2016
Imagine sitting in a room several years ago and hearing your leader say, “The U.S. is decommissioning the Space Shuttle. I think we should build a space craft that would supply the Space Station.” Would you think it was ludicrous? Or would you welcome the idea? Musk had that idea, or at least welcomed the idea.
Are you asking the big questions?
4. Continually Innovate
He has not only created Tesla but seeks to develop a free, nationwide network for charging electric cars. But it doesn’t stop there, he has branched out into Solar City, making solar panel leasing affordable and widespread. He has also boldly gone where few others have in space exploration. But he doesn’t stop there. With Tesla, he continues to think bigger, expanding the offerings even before he has stabilized production. He hasn’t even delivered the Model 3 and he is talking about a minivan and pickup. Meanwhile, critics want him to play it safe, produce one thing before moving on. Could it be that he is leveraging that innovative leadership power by continually creating new products? Could it be that he is ignoring the critics to continually innovate?
How willing are you to pursue new ideas?
5. Accept the Challenge
“Elon is pretty good at harnessing and channeling the team to do pretty amazing things that were beyond what the team even thought was possible,” says co-founder and chief technical officer JB Straubel. “If you challenge people to work hard, they achieve more than they think they can. Most leaders don’t want to do that.” Forbes, August 24, 2016.
Musk is not someone who settles for the limitations of others. Instead, he pushes expectations and often sees results that others never imagined. This happens because he challenges himself and his team.
I’m not sure many leaders fully understand challenge on the level Musk does. Challenge is a call to fight, a summons to compete and a difficulty to overcome. Musk accepts the seemingly impossible challenge because he is driven by a powerful purpose. He leverages the power of his team by communicating (creating a shared meaning) of the importance of meeting that challenge. Many leaders don’t challenge themselves because they are afraid to fail.
To what degree do you challenge yourself?
To what degree do you challenge your team?
Become the Disruptive Leader
I am Dr. Loren Murfield and I develop disruptive leaders . If you are looking for more options as either an aspiring leader or a leader emerging in the Connection Economy, contact me today.
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(c) Murfield International, Inc. 2016