Elon Musk's Leadership Under Fire: Layoffs and Rehires at Tesla

Written by Camilla Jessen

Jun.04 - 2024 12:26 PM CET

Photo: Frederic Legrand - COMEO / Shutterstock.com
Photo: Frederic Legrand - COMEO / Shutterstock.com
Elon Musk's leadership style is once again the focus of criticism.

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Elon Musk's controversial leadership style is once again the focus of criticism.

The billionaire CEO of Tesla, SpaceX and the social media platform X (formerly known as Twitter) has made a name for himself in the past through his rigorous dismissal practices. 

As Business Insider reports, Musk recently rehired some of Tesla's nearly 500 Supercharger employees he laid off in April.

This practice of firing and rehiring is not uncommon for Musk. After his acquisition of Twitter in 2022, the tech giant fired 90 percent for the workforce and rehired some of the personnel later.

Musk's strategy, as he himself called it, is based on the principle of "delete, delete, delete."

According to Walter Isaacson, the author of Musk's biography, the Tesla CEO believes that if 20 percent of the deleted items are not added back, then not enough has been deleted.

Alec Levenson, a senior researcher at the Marshall Center for Effective Organizations at the University of Southern California, criticizes this method as ineffective and emphasizes that it spreads distrust among the workforce. 

Levenson argues that good management practices would enable better leadership without sacrificing profit margins.

Musk has a history of firing employees who disagreed with his decisions. Several former employees reported being fired because their opinions did not align with the tech CEO.

A similar incident occurred at SpaceX, when a group of employees were fired after criticizing Musk's behavior. These incidents have led to complaints to the National Labor Relations Board, which accuses Musk of wrongful termination.

These developments raise the question of whether Musk's leadership style can be successful in the long term. 

Critics point out that a culture of mistrust and uncertainty does not lead to a productive work environment and could ultimately affect employee efficiency and loyalty.

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