Erratic doesn't seem like too harsh a description for someone who, in one moment, is offering up the vast resources at his disposal to help rescue 12 complete strangers across the globe, and in virtually the next, is literally committing libel against a different complete stranger across the globe. If you're unfamiliar with that story, you can read a succinct account -- it's a prime example of emotional intelligence gone wrong.
That's not the only time the billionaire entrepreneur has found himself drawing ire for his Twitter exploits. From bad April Fool's jokes to lashing out on politics, Musk has definitely stepped on a few toes (maybe a lot).
However, in all fairness, it's not like these are representative of his overall Twitter presence. He's actually accomplished a lot of good on the platform -- from Tweet to action -- the kind of stuff we can learn from (and what I personally miss).
Still, valuable leadership needs a degree of predictability.
Tweeting while on Ambien, for example, might be the antithesis of predictable.
A little red wine, vintage record, some Ambien ... and magic!-- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 7, 2017
Tweeting while on Ambien and drinking? Talk about flirting with disaster.
It's probably the Ambien-- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 12, 2016
Given the negative fallout, what can other leaders take away from Musk's mistakes?
If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all.
Remember this one, from, like, kindergarten? Apologies are one thing, but better to just avoid the whole thing altogether. Note: this isn't the same thing as ignoring criticism. There are constructive ways of responding, though, that won't send your company's stocks plummeting.
Rise above the noise.
Especially for someone with as much on their plate as this man, it's crucial that they harness all available energy and refocus it where it belongs. The distractions aren't going anywhere, so if you don't want to lose ground, you have to anticipate and prepare for them. What's more damaging is Musks perceived distraction -- and downstream impact to Tesla investors and consumers -- that is very real.
Shore up your weak spots.
This goes beyond knowing your weak spots -- you need to actively do something about them. Musk knows that vitriolic tweeting is a weak spot of his, but he apparently hasn't hired anyone to filter his anger -- and Ambien-fueled escapades as of late.
So, here's what he had to say about it:
In an interview with Bloomberg, here's what Musk had to say about correcting his social behavior:
"I have made the mistaken assumption--and I will attempt to be better at this--of thinking that because somebody is on Twitter and is attacking me that it is open season. And that is my mistake. I will correct it."
The good news: that's exactly the right kind of approach we want to hear from Musk. Ownership and the hope of actionable correction.
The bad news: that Bloomberg interview was on July 13th -- and Musk's most recent Twitter disaster was merely 3 days later on July 16th.
Can we really believe that he will correct this? Musk definitely has the track record(s) of following through with his plans -- but based on his recent, verbal commitments with actionable volatility -- we just can't be sure.
That's the problem, in a nutshell.