Elon Musk Reluctant CEO

Lewis Walker |

Are you working in a job you don’t enjoy? Are you in a role that doesn’t suit your interests and talents and ignite your passion? If so, you have something in common with Elon Musk, the celebrated CEO of Tesla, Inc.

Mr. Musk is embroiled in a court proceeding alleging that he acted improperly relative to the electric car maker’s purchase of SolarCity Corporation in 2016. According to a Wall Street Journal story dated 7/13/2021, the plaintiffs, which include pension funds holding Tesla stock, assert that Musk acted “to benefit himself and bail out a home-solar company on the verge of bankruptcy,” thereby damaging stockholders. Musk stated that the purchase supported his goal “of creating a vertically integrated sustainable-energy company.”

The case is curious in that Tesla stockholders were not harmed. Tesla (TSLA) was trading around $44 a share in 2016 when Musk proposed the acquisition. On July 26, 2021, TSLA traded in the neighborhood of $643 a share. The stock is down considerably from its 52-week high of $900.40 a share earlier this year. At the peak of Tesla’s value, Musk ranked as the world’s second richest person. No longer #2, he still has ample funds to pour into SpaceX, his 20-year old privately-held rocket and space exploration company.

His fascination with space and concomitant engineering challenges gives insight into a startling comment Musk made during his testimony regarding Tesla and SolarCity. Musk confessed that he “didn’t even enjoy being the boss of Tesla.” He said, “I rather hate it and I would much prefer to spend my time on design and engineering, which is what intrinsically I like doing.”  Here’s a mega-billionaire, a man lionized as a tremendous success story, admitting that he’s in the wrong role at Tesla, frustrated with “CEO stuff.”

Thinking about what you do at work, does the voice in your head say, “Hey, that’s me. I’d rather be doing something else!” Welcome to the “gerbil-on-a-wheel” world of “role misalignment.” You may be a student thinking you’re pursuing the wrong major and academic focus. A stay-at-home parent thinking your talents are going to waste. You may be bored with your job. You may be a key executive in a large operation, or the owner or CEO of a smaller closely-held company, and you share Musk’s frustrations. If an entrepreneur, you started your firm because you hated bureaucracy and now you’re running a mini-bureaucracy and you’re no longer concentrating on your core passion.

Ever since childhood, there are interests that instinctively draw you in. They are activities that you often get lost in as time races by. When you stop or are interrupted, you can’t wait to get back to it. Those focused activities and interests that come naturally are indicative of inherent talents, your internal modalities or MO. Your internal modalities, which can be measured using certain assessments, reflect how you were hardwired at birth to respond in very specific ways to challenges and tasks. When you’re pushed into job roles that don’t reflect your talents and strengths, you may accommodate what you’ve been tasked with. You may do okay, but “okay” is boring. Ultimately, you will likely leave the job. If you’re a supervisor, boss, CEO, owner, etc., of a business or enterprise and you’re experiencing excessive employee turnover, clearly you have people in the wrong roles.

According to Maria C. Forbes, CEO (Chief Engagement Officer) of Atlanta-based firepowerteams.com, there’s  a vast difference between a “job description” and a “role description.” Job descriptions list the hard skills, technical and industry specific, and the soft skills, interpersonal or relational, deemed important to the position. A “role description” goes beyond knowledge, skills, and relational aspects, focusing on innate talents and strengths which underpin success in the role. Credentialed consultants like Maria use assessments and coaching to gauge and enhance the likelihood of a person’s success in meeting company objectives in the envisioned role.

The Kolbe Indexes and Gallup Clifton StrengthsFinder assessments provide added insight into whether a candidate is the right fit for a position. Such assessments are valuable to you as a job seeker or as one striving to move ahead in a chosen career path. By matching career options with inherent talents, strengths, passion, and purpose, they are extremely useful for those starting out, whether deciding on college majors or pursuing first jobs.

Donald O. Clifton, developer of the Gallup program, said, “While your spontaneous reactions provide the clearest trace of your talents, here are three more clues to keep in mind: yearnings, rapid learning, and satisfactions. Yearnings reveal the presence of a talent, particularly when they are felt early in life.” You won’t turn “yearnings into earnings” if you’re not in the right role. Take a tip from Elon Musk, the bored CEO. Learning how to clearly understand your innate talents and how best to apply and strengthen them could propel you as you “rocket to success!”