In 2016, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk did a one-to-one interview with Scott Pelley on 60 minutes. He was asked what it means to him that some of his personal heroes disagree with the goals he has set for the company and the future of commercial spaceflights. His heroes included the pioneers of manned spaceflight.
The interview is worth a watch if haven’t seen it yet. Especially in the light of incredible stories coming out of his businesses since then. Elon is a man the world look up to. The world watches him break records and set new ones. The world watches him landing rockets upright on floating barges and mass producing electric vehicles. And here we see him on the verge of breaking down because his heroes don’t believe in him.
I think we can all relate to that.
Musk sets an example we should follow in his moment of vulnerability. One moment he is noticeably bursting in tears and then an instant later, he jiggles around and says that despite his heroes’ doubts his ideas nothing can stop him from making his dream into reality.
He demonstrates authentic leadership is acknowledging your doubts and fear with full legitimacy and transparency but pushing forth nonetheless. A lot can be learnt from this single video, but there are three lessons we all can embrace.
Leaders often discuss setbacks and disappointments but usually as a reflection following success. It is rare when executives show vulnerability in a moment of failure – perhaps reliance on a persona of invulnerability will lend confidence to inspire teams.
Each of us fights in our own ways, however, being transparent can help humanize almost anyone. In the video, it even makes Elon, the man trying to colonizing the red planet somehow relatable. We can see the real Elon Musk.
The man who fights with his own internal conflict. A man doubted by people he looks up to since his childhood. But also, an inspiring tech leader who denies to let such doubts demotivate him.