Leadership at Tesla

Robots in Car Plant

According to recent data, Tesla experienced a higher than normal accident rate in its California factory. Some will call Elon Musk’s response an attempt at PR or spin. I would call it leadership, extraordinary leadership. He is the reason Tesla is valued by investors at nearly $60 billion, compared to Ford’s value of $43 billion. Ford made 7 million vehicles last year. Tesla made 80,000. The valuation of Tesla is not about how many cars they make, it is about the vision and leadership of Elon Musk. I don’t recall the source, but someone said Musk is a refined combination of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. That is what people are investing in, the man, not the cars.  The following e-mail from Elon Musk to employees is an exemplary display of leadership. It says a lot about the man.

“No words can express how much I care about your safety and wellbeing. It breaks my heart when someone is injured building cars and trying their best to make Tesla successful.”

“Going forward, I’ve asked that every injury be reported directly to me, without exception. I’m meting with the safety team every week and would like to meet with every injured person as soon as they are well, so that I can understand from them exactly what we need to do to make it better. I will then go down to the production line and perform the same task that they perform.”

“This is what all managers at Tesla should do as a matter of course. At Tesla, we lead from the front line, not from some safe and comfortable ivory tower. Managers must always put their team’s safety above their own.”

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