Elon Musk is known for speaking his mind. And as his impressive roster of successful companies only continues to grow, no one can blame him. While he is used to saying whatever he wants to defend himself, sometimes it’s what we don’t say that carries more of an impact.
Twitter was shocked to see that Elon listened to the Consumer Reports’ newest claim that the Tesla 3 isn’t a recommendable car.
With as much as Elon has on the line with hundreds of thousands of reservations for the newest model, and critics watching his every move, a fiery backlash could have ensued.
However, it didn’t.
Instead, it was a chance for Elon to brilliantly display his ability to make on the fly changes, and steer the ship.
Looks like this can be fixed with a firmware update. Will be rolling that out in a few days. With further refinement, we can improve braking distance beyond initial specs. Tesla won’t stop until Model 3 has better braking than any remotely comparable car.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 22, 2018
What he did is something that every founder should take to heart.
First, he acknowledged that the Consumer Report may know a thing or two about how to give a recommendation, and his car simply didn’t make the grade.
Then, he assessed the situation, found the flaws in his own designs and admitted his mistake on Twitter.
Afterward, he announced how they’d make the change and that a firmware update would be available in a matter of days!
Here’s why this was so incredible.
Constructive criticism helps companies build better products.
When faced with criticism, Elon’s tweet shows that his ego comes second, and that Tesla’s ability to change the world, comes first.
At any company, dissenting opinions give rise to innovation. This is all part of normal proceedings, internally. However, when criticism comes from outside of the company, it can feel a little disheartening.
Yet, in this instance, Elon was able to prove his ability to handle customer concerns, and show why his brands perform so well.
This is a building block of trust, that he can further leverage to keep up hype for his new car, but also to regain trust after Consumer Reports’ damaging review.
Paying respect shows maturity.
It would have been very easy for Elon to have lashed out at Consumer Reports in an attempt to thwart their failure to recommend his car. However, doing so would have been catastrophic to his brand and his credibility.
As companies take heat in the media, it’s important that they show respect towards respectable differences of opinions, especially when these differing opinions are coming from a well-established source, such as Consumer Reports.
By handling things respectfully, it shows that Elon is ready to make improvements to his models and admit his team’s shortcomings. This also means that Tesla can move ahead unabated. Rather than lashing out and doing damage control to distract the public from the poor review, Elon acted tactfully and reframed the conversation around providing new results.
Admitting when you are wrong makes the CEO more human.
There’s a reason that when you go on Yelp the five-star restaurants look suspicious. It’s the same reason that we are cautious around someone who never admits fault. Perfection is a very rare trait. Owning up to mistakes is a sign that makes Elon Musk, a billionaire tech mogul, more approachable.
It also makes his customer base more likely to trust him, and to continue to purchase his products.
I’ve worked with every type of CEO from passionately screaming madmen, to calm, cool and discerning. So for me, seeing Elon’s maturity is a fantastic thing to watch. We all know how important this new model is for Tesla, and one trait of CEOs are their enthusiasm, and sometimes their disappointment.
Elon getting back to work and handling this maturely shows that his resolve for customer service is paramount. And that’s something that will trickle down throughout the rest of the company.