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Tesla’s Elon Musk tells managers to correct him if needed: “Sometimes, I’m just plain wrong!”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk wears a Plaid Mode jacket at the company's Model S Plaid Delivery Event on June 10th, 2021. (Credit: Tesla)

A recently leaked email from Tesla CEO Elon Musk has highlighted the executive’s unique management style once more. While Musk is known as a boss that demands much from his employees, the leaked email revealed that the CEO is more than willing to be corrected — if the situation calls for it. 

The emails were recently retrieved and shared by CNBC, which noted that the messages were sent to Tesla employees in the first week of October. Tesla had just ended its most historic third quarter yet then, delivering a total of 241,300 vehicles from July to September. With this in mind, Musk made it a point to highlight what he wants to happen when he sends explicit directions. 

Musk’s email may sound stern, with the CEO noting that Tesla managers are only allowed to take three actions when they receive directions. The CEO noted that if his instructions are vague, managers should ask for clarifications. And if managers believe that the instructions are wrong, Musk noted that managers should send a message to him telling him why his instructions are incorrect. “Sometimes, I’m just plain wrong,” Musk wrote. 

Following is Musk’s email to Tesla employees: 

To: Everybody

From: Elon Musk

Date: Monday October 4 [time redacted]

Subj. Please Note

If an email is sent from me with explicit directions, there are only three actions allowed by managers.

1. Email me back to explain why what I said was incorrect. Sometimes, I’m just plain wrong!

2. Request further clarification if what I said was ambiguous.

3. Execute the directions.

If none of the above are done, that manager will be asked to resign immediately.

Thank you,

Elon

The contents of the leaked email paint a rather different picture of the CEO, who has been characterized as a brash leader who has a tendency to simply push for what he wants. As the message reveals, Musk may be a strict leader, but he openly admits to making mistakes. The CEO may be confident, but he seems to be fully aware that he is not infallible.

Another leaked email showed a lighter side to the CEO’s management style. In the message, Musk noted that a Tesla associate had reached out to him asking if they could use one earbud to listen to music while they worked. Musk responded positively to this suggestion, even noting that ambient music from speaker systems is completely fine, provided that workers agree on what type of music should be played. 

Following is the leaked email: 

To: Everybody

From: Elon Musk

Date: Sunday October 3 [time redacted]

Subj. Music in the Factory

Just wanted to say that I very much support music in the factory, as well as any little touches that make work more enjoyable.

An associate just sent me a note asking if we could have one earbud for music so the other ear can listen for safety-related issues. That sounds fine to me.

Also, ambient music from speakers is also totally cool so long as there is reasonable agreement among your colleagues as to the music choices.

If there are other things that you think would improve your day, please let me know. I care very much that you look forward to coming to work every day!

Similar to the other leaked email, this message also breaks a stereotype that has been painted of Tesla and its workers. Tesla critics and even some mainstream reports have alleged that the company’s employees are worked to the bone with very little conveniences, but as noted by Musk in his message, he does want to make work as enjoyable as possible.

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Tesla’s Elon Musk tells managers to correct him if needed: “Sometimes, I’m just plain wrong!”
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