What’s the impact of Elon Musk’s leadership on end-user experience? | by Meltem Naz Kaso Coskun | Feb, 2024


Analyzing tech leadership approaches and alternatives.

TESLA is written in capital letters, in red, on black background
A picture from one of Musk’s companies, Tesla (Image taken from Prometheus 🔥 on Unsplash)

Musk’s leadership style doesn’t only impact the handful of renowned companies he owns. It also shapes what success looks like for visionary, risk-taking, hands-on leaders around the world who might expect too much from their staff and set no boundaries.

In this article, I go a step beyond exploring how this type of tech leadership impacts employees and delve further into the question: What kind of work culture, driven by what kind of tech leadership, does it take to build successful products that deliver extraordinary UX?

Elon Musk, widely discussed and polarizing, serves as a focal point for understanding transformational leadership. His methods, though divisive, cannot be overlooked, given his cultural influence.

Since acquiring X, Musk’s leadership has been scrutinized for its demanding nature, leading to concerns regarding psychological safety, burnout, and organizational chaos. Arianna Huffington’s critique offers more clarity on this:

“So how does this scienceand data-driven genius (Musk) adopt such an incredibly backward idea of how human energy works? It’s the equivalent of Musk announcing that the next Tesla model will be running on coal — which would be fitting, because the Industrial Revolution is the model he’s using for human energy. That’s when our collective approach to work was defined by the idea that humans are machines, and more time up and operating meant a higher rate of production.”

It seems that what’s not discussed so openly, however, is that Musk-style transformational leadership in tech gains moral ground when situated as follows:

The suffering imposed on tech workers, and self-imposed on tech leaders themselves is not only justified but also glorified because it’s assumed to be a key ingredient to triggering better product results and improving the end-user experience.

However, is this the case? Is there a relationship between the well-being of the people who build in tech and the success of what’s being built in the eyes of the users? And if so, what kind of relationship is that? And how does senior leadership…


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