According to Business Insider, Elon Musk is not a good boss. His wild demands and questionable managerial practices have shown him to be an eccentric, unreliable leader of the staff.
Amidst all the outrageous micro-management and stone-age mandates during his time as CEO of Twitter, he made a valuable statement about management that I think is worth considering for other, non-chaotic owners.
In an email sent just before Thanksgiving, Musk told employees that all managers are expected to write a meaningful amount of software themselves and to treat an engineering manager’s inability to code as the captain of a horse.
Elon Musk’s point is important, and one I’ve said before: Managers need to be able to do what they’re managing. Managers have drifted dangerously far from the average worker, making calls based on estimates that haven’t been informed by actual labor. This hopeless isolation has made modern management very toxic.
A class system has been created within organizations where a bloated class of individual traffic cops exert themselves without participating in or properly valuing the labour. While there is a ring of truth to Elon Musk’s dictum, his view of a manager’s contribution to a company’s end product is wildly base, and certainly has the problem of the messenger himself.
A prime example of an out-of-touch boss who demands extreme dedication from employees, while providing little value himself. But despite the problems with both the messenger and the message, there are gems of valuable insight to be mined here.
There’s a rot at the core of today’s management culture: Managers have stopped doing real work—the kind of labor needed to create an end product that makes a company money. Instead of being in a position where respect is earned through performance and actual labor, managers have become figureheads rather than executors.
Caught up in the endless busywork that a cottage industry of consultants requires to prove their worth. A manager’s job has increasingly become that of a quarterback who only calls audibles. This is why Musk is right to some extent: a manager must be an active participant in the process they are managing, and must have a complete understanding of the work being created.
He should be able to contribute and review code, just as someone who manages cooks should be able to prepare meals with them. A truly useful manager is one who acts on the practical experience that calls upon the larger organization from a place of respect for both the workers and the labor they create.
This type of practical wisdom creates goodwill between employee and manager, creating a culture of mutual respect that can enhance communication and facilitate better performance.