Elon Musk's leadership style is bad for business and mental health, experts warn

Elon Musk’s leadership style is bad for business and mental health, experts warn

Chaos continued to erupt as hordes of employees left Twitter on November 17 after relentless demands from Elon Musk. He gave workers until 5 p.m. to decide whether to quit or stay and work “long hours at high intensity”. Meanwhile, major companies such as CBS have suspended their Twitter accounts due to the tumultuous takeover and uncertainty about its future. Musk has used the kind of oppressive leadership tactics that have caused disruption in the post-pandemic workplace, the opposite of what experts are calling for in addressing workplace havoc and addressing mental health issues. caused by the pandemic.

Workplace leadership experts say that so far Musk’s leadership style is going in the wrong direction. In a recent Forbes.com interview, Jenn Lim, CEO of Delivering Happiness and author of Beyond Happiness: How Authentic Leaders Prioritize Growth and Impact, told me that Musk treats people like collateral damage instead of human beings, forgetting basic human decency in how he handles layoffs. Lim’s assessment raises the question of the impact of his inhumane actions on the employees’ already battered mental health. Others worry that copycat executives are emulating Musk’s tactics to get more bang for their buck at the expense of employee mental health.

The world’s richest man’s latest return-to-work strategy goes against so many other leaders who are also insisting that remote working is the way of the future and that it is here to stay. Topia Chief Strategy Officer Steve Black says the full-service policy is a dangerous talent strategy that other companies must implement. “Elon Musk forcing employees back into the office full-time is a dangerous talent strategy because it will likely lead to many employees leaving for more flexible jobs,” Black said. “In our recent Adapt survey, we found that 65% of employees who are forced to return to the office full-time say they are more likely to look for a new job; 46% are attracted to jobs focused on employee well-being and 42% want to be able to work from home whenever they want. Musk goes directly against these two factors by removing all flexibility and forcing a minimum 40 hours per week.

Musk is heading in the wrong direction

If a motorist was driving in the wrong direction on a one-way street, pedestrians would signal him to stop. If a leader takes a large organization in the wrong direction, those in the know would point it out before it crumbles and burns. What follows are steps experts say business leaders need to take in 2023 to restore post-pandemic stability in the workplace, which Musk is taking upside down.

  • Psychological safety for employees. According to Jennie Yang, vice president of people and culture at 15Five, leaders need to consider the skills they want to see in their managers and employees, such as resilience, self-reliance, and adaptability. ‘ambiguity. “In order to survive a recession, the psychological safety of employees will be essential next year, so leaders in particular will need skills to manage internal communications,” she said, adding that healing from trauma from toxic workplaces and the development of soft skills to handle tough economic times is imperative. “Key skills to focus on include strong mental and emotional well-being and the ability to relate to others.”
  • Increase team productivity without burnout. Tim Harsch, CEO and co-founder of Owler, told me that the biggest challenge for leaders in 2023 will be managing economic uncertainty and increasing team productivity without burning out teams. “This is going to require clear and honest communication across the organization and setting quality key performance indicators (KPIs) that everyone on the teams buys into,” he said.
  • Create a stable workplace. David Hassell, CEO and co-founder of 15Five, agrees that business leaders will need to demonstrate certainty in the face of uncertainty in 2023. When business leaders rise to the occasion and lead through uncertainties, they ultimately create a positive workplace for their employees. thrive, Hassell told me, predicting that companies will redouble their leadership and management training and that the standardization of the 9-to-5 workplace is gone, adding, “It’s vital to create a stable workplace that anchors employee trust and loyalty. This is especially important in a remote or hybrid work environment. Employees who feel a sense of stability, management support, a sense of purpose in their work, and a connection to others—all things leadership should drive—will be less likely to disengage or “quietly quit” l ‘next year.

A better way to make tough decisions

Elon Musk’s tactics are diametrically opposed to what evidence-based research findings and expert opinion recommend. Here are the ingredients senior leaders say are needed to unleash the havoc in a post-pandemic workplace:

  • Gallup insists that a company’s most important asset is its people.
  • TalentLMS reported that 78% of employees want more support from their workplace.
  • A body of research shows that empathy is the most important leadership skill, especially in times of crisis.
  • Experts say leaders need to manage with stability and certainty during economic uncertainty, without adding more confusion and disruption.

Yet many misinformed leaders will identify with Musk’s reckless tactics and follow in his footsteps. Topia’s Steve Black points out that this is a dangerous path for other companies to follow. Twitter and Tesla are strong and well-known brands. Black points out that most brands are not in the same category. Therein lies the danger, he cautions and warns organizations: “If these brands follow Musk’s lead, they won’t be able to attract and retain enough talent for a term. fully in office is a valid strategy. Ultimately, a “Tesla does it, so we can too” strategy would be very risky for most organizations. »

The best way for leaders to stay true to the corporate culture when faced with the kind of tough decisions Elon Musk faces is to backtrack by making unemotional leadership decisions. “As leaders make these tough decisions, it’s tempting to take the emotion out of them,” Jenn Lim told me. “Psychologically, it can be a balm to soothe a bad conscience. But conscious leaders take the opposite path. During Covid, these leaders put titles and office politics aside and put on their empathy hats, knowing what was at stake in their impact on livelihoods. When making these decisions, keep your company’s values ​​and purpose in mind, incorporating them into your considerations. Leadership should start with Why these choices are made and then How? ‘Or’ What they live up to the company’s values ​​and raison d’être. When they are respected, the true character of an organization has the opportunity to show its humanity.

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