Last week, SpaceX successfully launched and recovered its first recycled rocket, Falcon 9. As CNN reported, this is "the first time in the history of spaceflight that the same rocket has been used on two separate missions to orbit."
The day after this historic accomplishment, Musk went on Twitter to deliver the following message:
Incredibly proud of the SpaceX team for achieving this milestone in space! Next goal is reflight within 24 hours.-- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 30, 2017
The tweet is only 19 words, but it packs a major punch. And it holds some important lessons for anyone who is leading a team.
Here are two major takeaways:
1. Focus on your team's accomplishments. Not your own.
It would be easy for Musk, the founder and driving force behind SpaceX, to take credit for this achievement.
Instead, he focuses on his team.
It's sincere, specific praise like this that motivates employees, makes them feel like part of the team, and builds an environment where the whole becomes much stronger than the sum of its parts. (Musk isn't the only one to figure this out. Just check out this recent letter from Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, or this old email from ex-Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz.)
So how can you put this into practice?
Take a moment today to gather your team. Tell them what you appreciate about their work and why. Keep it real.
Do this, and your people will go on to accomplish great things--because you convinced them that they could.
2. Keep moving forward.
Musk does a great job of recognizing the accomplishment, but he's not satisfied to sit and bask in the glory--and he doesn't want his people to do so either.
By immediately stating SpaceX's next goal, Musk demonstrates a mindset of continuous improvement. He also shows us what clear, unambiguous communication looks like.
If you're leading a team, you need to:
- Maintain a clear vision, and set the milestones that will lead the team to bring that vision to fruition
- Keep challenging your people to the right degree, because they're looking for opportunities to grow
Your people are capable of great work. The leader's job is to show them which way to go, and to keep them on course.
As Musk demonstrates, great communication isn't made up of long, drawn-out speeches.