Why resilient leaders don’t get Elon Musk’s 120 hour work week

Elon Musk recently admitted that he’s working 120 hour weeks and rarely sees his wife and five children. Is this the price of ambitious vision or a leader who doesn’t trust his team?

Resilient leaders look on with horror at the admission by Elon Musk in a recent interview. Consequently Arianna Huffington, another multimillionaire with her fingers in multiple pies, wrote an open letter to Musk on her Thrive Global website:

You don’t take vacations. There’s no way you can connect with your amazing vision and creativity when you don’t give yourself time to reconnect not just with those you love but also with yourself and your wisdom.

In response to Arianna Huffington’s open letter asking him to slow down and reconnect with his creativity, he tweeted:

“Ford & Tesla are the only 2 American car companies to avoid bankruptcy. It’s 2.30am I just got home from the factory. You think this is an option. It is not.”

Look at his language. Avoidance is a survival response. He sees Survival is his only option.

This is a man operating at the base level of his nervous system’s “fight or flight” response. Which is understandable. His businesses constantly push the boundary of what is possible. He’s the guy who demonstrated that space flight is commercially viable. He’s the guy who put a sports car in to space and made me believe in the human race as a spacefaring species.

The SpaceX twin booster landing is one of the pivotal moments of this century, but one man can't do it all, and as a leader, Elon Musk needs to show a better way forward for Resilient leaders
The SpaceX twin booster landing is one of the pivotal moments of this century, but one man can’t do it all, and as a leader, Elon Musk needs to show a better way forward for Resilient leaders

I have an enormous amount of respect and admiration for his vision and drive. Oh and I’d love to drive a Tesla.

But this sort of behaviour sends out a dangerous message to those that model him. Which is many people.

Resilient leaders understand the impact that their work ethic has on culture

In Silicon Valley, numerous companies introduced unlimited holidays in an attempt to combat burnout.

The result? They saw an overwhelming reduction in holidays taken by their employees.

It’s not the holiday allowance, it’s the culture that drives burnout.

And it’s the leaders that drive the culture.

So if the boss thinks they are superhuman and can drive the business by working stupid hours, then it’s not just them that will burn out.

It’s all their ambitious employees too.

Resilient leaders drive resilient culture. Resilient cultures grow resilient, high performing people.

#stress #resilience #burnout #leadership #nexus8

Further Reading

Will Elon Musk’s 120-hour week stop us worshipping workaholism? – The Guardian

An open letter to Elon Musk – Thrive Global

The Physics of SpaceX twin booster landings – Wired

Three ways to protect high performers from burnout

Matt

Experienced business leader, mentor and coach, with fascinations for technology, psychology and ancient philosophies. A self-confessed techno hippy with a unique talent for bringing the best out in people.

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