Elon Musk is a genius. That fact is undeniable. But as a business owner and a CEO, he is really struggling and on many fronts he is failing. The signs of burnout are all there: twitter tantrums, financial trouble and the fact that he has been sleeping in his office all point to the inevitable breakdown.
I see this every single day as a business coach. Brilliant individuals with the capacity to change the world. Geniuses that are so enamored with their products that they obsess. They work non-stop and soon they begin to slip and their business suffers. It's happening to Elon, and it could happen to you if don't make some changes.
If I had the opportunity to coach Elon Musk, here is what I would focus on with him.
First Coaching Focus: Learn to Channel Your Obsession
There is nothing wrong with being passionate. Elon has created products (not unlike yourself) that will change the course of history, and he needs to focus on that innovation. Being bogged down with the day-to-day tasks of running his companies has drained him of energy and inspiration.
Generally when a business leader struggles to let go of the day-to-day tasks the reason is because he or she is afraid of "losing control". Assuming you've got solid team members, ask yourself, what informational needs do you have that if they were met would allow you to stop micromanaging your team?
This leads into the area of your business called "controls" (notice the "s" on the end.) Controls are the specialized systems you've set up to help protect your company from careless, costly, or uninformed decisions or behaviors.
If I were Elon's coach, I'd systematically go through his processes and look for ways that his team could regain the authority to get tasks done without running everything past him. The goal would be for his employees and managers to take the initiative and have the discretion to make decisions and get valuable work done without him being the limiting factor that slows the business down. With everyone in the company working 7 days a week, this could make a huge impact on meeting his tight production deadlines with their sanity in check.
At the same time, we would ensure that the business was protected--that the right things are getting done, at the right time, and hence producing the right results.
For example, we would work to formalize how he gives team members levels of decision-making authority that aligns with their experience and the degree of consequence if they decide poorly.
We would also institute weekly reporting of key indicators that help his team monitor performance and trends and proactively respond to changes in the business.
The goal would be to help Elon realize that building a business for control actually stunts the company's growth, not to mention leads to business owner burnout. When done properly you can channel your obsession into creating a solid foundation on which to spark innovation and progress.
Second Coaching Focus: Learn to Ask For Help
Our second business coaching goal would be to find Elon a mastermind group that challenges him. In his early years, it has been said that Elon and his friends would cold call people that they found to be interesting and invite them to lunch. He had a meeting with the head of marketing from the Toronto Blue Jays and a writer from the Globe and Mail just to name a few.
I would encourage Elon to continue to reach out to those that inspire him in fields that he could learn something from. Once he had good systems and controls in place, he would stop taking 5 minute lunch breaks and take the time to sit down with a mastermind group and find focus and recharge his (solar) batteries.
To all the CEO's out there: keep innovating and never lose your passion.
To Elon Musk: Let's do lunch! I think I can help you free up more time for your superhero work.