In just 2 sentences, Elon Musk taught every employee a great leadership lesson

Tesla CEO Elon Musk may not be a billboard for work-life balance, but he clearly understands the consequences of poor communication and poor management. An email Musk sent to his employees a few years ago, which was later leaked to the public, contained this quick lesson:

Communication should take the shortest route necessary to get the job done, not through the chain of command.

The message was clearly a warning to his executives, because Musk knows that communicating through hierarchies and multiple channels can slow things down and destroy innovation. No employee doing the actual work should ever go to his manager, who then goes to his director, who then goes to his VP, who then returns the service to his director, who then returns to his manager, who then finally the employee to get something done. This is madness.

Information must travel the shortest distance

Musk understands that information must travel in every direction, between all levels, regardless of rank or position. This decentralized, bottom-up management approach is the future of leadership. If something is to be communicated in a way that increases efficiency and productivity, it has to travel the shortest distance, according to Musk.

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Easier said than done if you’re currently in a top-down, command-and-control environment. What is the necessary shift required?

Give employees the freedom and ability to decide, participate and determine how best to get the job done. Employees thrive in an entrepreneurial environment, which makes them feel invested in the company. This means that they take ownership of their work and are empowered to make their own decisions, especially if they have the right competence and skills to know the best course of action. If you allow that freedom, they will likely perform at a higher level.

The leader’s goal is and always will be to enable team members to make the right decision. It helps them be proactive in solving problems they face and take full responsibility for the results.

A good starting point

Fear of reprimand for acting on your good instincts crushes the human mind. Managers need to pump fear out of the atmosphere by giving employees autonomy, giving them a voice to express their ideas, and by allowing them to take risks and make mistakes as part of their learning process. Start developing a sense of acceptance and an atmosphere of encouragement. Then watch your employees do things you absolutely love.

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