Elon Musk’s insecurity drives his contemptuous behavior

Elon Musk has his ongoing blind spots. Some might say his behavior of communication shares similarities with those of President Donald Trump.

His response to offense and conflict has, as a pattern, revealed glaring, hurtful and self-destructive weakness of self control: inability to manage stress in a healthy, mature manner, anger consuming him, displays of arrogance, sarcasm, belittlement, false allegations and slander.

Take a glance at his most recent public meltdown — this letter, courtesy of Business Insider and writer Isobel Asher Hamilton, written by Musk to David Einhorn, CEO of Greenlight Capital.

Dear Mr. Musk: How does such communication exhibit poise and professionalism, express oneself intelligently and admirably, invite someone to listen, hear and understand a conflict more clearly, or improve reputation, outside the echo chamber at least?

What this type of behavior communication does do is fuel conflict and crisis.

It doesn’t problem solve much, if anything at all.

Musk’s struggles will continue because of these ongoing blind spots, little-to-no-motivation to take the important coaching steps to learn and implement quality stress management, be bigger than his anger and respond with assertiveness instead of petulance.

Look at the letter. It’s a junkyard of a temper tantrum and hostility.

The mocking introduction, the insults, sarcasm, attempts to humiliate or shame, the desire to minimize the recipient’s importance, the personal aggrandizement, the insincere nature of the invitation and the final punch insult to conclude the article.

Musk is a highly-accomplished entrepreneur. He knows business. Yet he is not without demons and faults or without a great need to increase his self awareness, stop blame displacement, start caring about social awareness and realize how he is perceived (especially by shareholders) and improve.

His behavior in the last year has been alarming, to the point where his emotional stability or mental health, like President Trump, can be reasonably questioned.

Sooner or later he will reach the tipping point of consequences that will bring him great pain. He’s speeding that direction without brakes.

Many other people could learn from Musk’s mistakes starting today before they too end up at the tipping point and some level of calamity awaiting them.

Michael Toebe is a specialist for reputation and crisis — communications and risk management, serving organizations and high-profile individuals. He has been published in Chief Executive, Corporate Board Member, Training Industry, Corporate Compliance Insights and the New York Law Journal. He publishes the newsletter, the Reputation Times. He can be found on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Writing on reputation, risk, decision making and crisis in business, politics, sports, entertainment, higher ed, healthcare and social media.

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