Elon Musk has added a sixth company to his roster with the launch of xAI. Here's a look at his management style over the years.

Elon Musk has added a sixth company to his roster with the launch of xAI. Here's a look at his management style over the years.
  • Elon Musk unveiled his new company xAI, which aims to probe the "true nature of the universe."

  • It's the sixth company he's heavily involved with, joining Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink, The Boring Company, and Twitter.

  • Here's a closer look at Musk's unconventional style of management and leadership.

Elon Musk has brought a sixth company under his belt with his recent launch of xAI. Information about the company is scarce, but its new website says it aims to probe the "true nature of the universe."

xAI now joins five other companies that Musk owns or is otherwise closely involved with: Tesla, SpaceX, Twitter, Neuralink, and The Boring Company.

Here's a look at Musk's approach to management and leadership at his companies.

There's micromanaging, and then there's "nano-management"

In 2015, Musk described himself as a "nano-manager" in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.


"Diamonds are created under pressure, and Elon Musk is a master diamond maker," Dolly Singh, former head of talent acquisition at SpaceX, previously told Insider.

"He is also likely aware how much it sucks on the receiving end, but he knows you will exceed your own expectations if he keeps the heat on," she said.

One Tesla software engineer previously told Insider, "He challenges people and pushes them to do things they don't think they can do and is really great in some ways."

But in 2018, current and former Tesla employees told CNBC that Musk's micromanagement cost the company time and money.

The reason Musk doesn't delegate? "I can't find people to delegate to," he told The New York Times in 2020.

Earlier this year, Musk sent Tesla staff an email saying he wanted to personally approve all new hires.

Musk didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment on this story.

Musk flouts convention

Musk also shared his management philosophy with Tesla workers in a 2018 email, in which he wrote there should generally be fewer, shorter meetings, and people not contributing should simply leave.

"Walk out of a meeting or drop off a call as soon as it is obvious you aren't adding value," he said. "It is not rude to leave, it is rude to make someone stay and waste their time."

He said employees should nix jargon and skip the chain of command to improve communication. He also said there's leeway with company rules.

"If following a 'company rule' is obviously ridiculous in a particular situation, such that it would make for a great Dilbert cartoon, then the rule should change," he wrote.

In one email sent in October 2021, first reported by CNBC, Musk told Tesla employees he doesn't mind if they listen to music in the factory or add "any little touches that make work more enjoyable."

Other times, he can be less flexible.

In another October email, Musk told Tesla managers they have three ways to proceed when he emails them with explicit directions: explain why he's wrong, ask for clarification, or "execute the directions."

"If none of the above are done, that manager will be asked to resign immediately," he wrote.

Musk is said to be prone to explosive incidents and "rage-firing"

Musk has been said to have a short fuse with employees.

"If you said something wrong or made one mistake or rubbed him the wrong way, he would decide you're an idiot and there was nothing that could change his mind," a senior engineering executive at Tesla told Wired in 2018.

A Tesla representative told Wired at the time that Musk "sometimes takes the difficult step of firing people who are underperforming and putting the success of the entire company" at risk.

The same year, Tesla employees told Insider that Musk could be demanding and unpredictable.

"Elon basically does what he wants, whenever he wants," one person said.

Musk has often exploded at executives and lower-ranking staff and stormed out of meetings, according to a book by Wall Street Journal reporter Tim Higgins.

Musk has disputed some of the book's anecdotes, calling it "both false *and* boring."

In 2021, Musk denied ever rage-firing employees, saying he "gives clear and frank feedback which may be construed as derision."

Musk's biographer, Walter Isaacson, recently said he'd seen Musk go into "demon mode" at times, which Isaacson described as highly productive but "dark" and "with a real lack of empathy."

"The thing that I noticed is that once he finishes doing it — and it was never physical and it was almost done in a flat monotone — but he would just really attack people and then a few days later, if they absorbed the lesson, he'd forget about it," Isaacson said.

"It would be as if he went from becoming Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde and then didn't even think that much or remember that much of how tough he had been on people."

Read the original article on Business Insider