Date of Completion

Spring 5-1-2023

Thesis Advisor(s)

Nell D’Auria, Qiu Liping

Honors Major





This paper provides an in-depth analysis of Elon Musk's leadership style across all his companies. Elon Musk, known for his passion for innovation and helping humanity, has founded and led several successful companies, including Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink, The Boring Company, and Twitter. The paper explores Musk's background, including his early entrepreneurial ventures and risk-taking attitude, highlighting his unique approach to leadership. The analysis focuses on Musk's leadership characteristics, drawing on the article "Decoding Leadership: What Really Matters," which identifies effective leadership traits such as being supportive, results-oriented, seeking different perspectives, and problem-solving. Furthermore, the paper examines Musk's leadership styles based on Daniel Goleman's six leadership styles: pacesetting, coercive, authoritative, affiliative, democratic, and coaching. Musk is found to utilize the pacesetting, coercive, and authoritative styles. Lastly, Elon Musk's leadership behavior is compared to the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership, as identified by Kouzes and Posner: model the way, inspire a shared vision, challenge the process, enable others to act, and encourage the heart. Overall, this analysis highlights Elon Musk's complex leadership style, characterized by a mix of effective and challenging traits, as he strives to drive innovation, solve global problems, and positively impact humanity.

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Business Commons