It is impossible to state that a person who achieved financial heights such as Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk is not an exemplary entrepreneur. Both may cause controversies, although it is impossible to deny that Bezos and Musk are the great leaders of the twenty-first century. They present critical indicators of an excellent team leader, including clear goals, efficient communication, high interest in their companies, and the ability to inspire their employees (Whetten & Cameron, 2016). It is crucial to review what characteristics define these CEOs as outstanding leaders among great ones and what differences they have.
First of all, both Bezos and Musk were able to push their respective businesses to the top within the span of a few decades, starting nearly from zero. The most apparent similarity is their overall leadership style which is commonly considered to be transformational (Miller, 2022; Quellmalz, 2021). In his TED talk, Sinek (2009) explains the difference between leaders such as Musk and Bezos and other CEOs of major companies is the realization that “the goal is to sell to people who believe what you believe” (07:42). Their ability to inspire others to perform at the best of their capabilities drove their companies to the very top of any market they chose to enter.
The second critical factor that lies at the core of both leaders’ styles is the acceptance of failure. If Musk and Bezos had resurfaced as CEOs only today, they could have been considered reckless in their decisions that might not have apparent immediate benefit to everyone else (Miller, 2022; Quellmalz, 2021). However, their ability to look past mistakes allows them to set their companies on the path to the top.
The third part might appear controversial, but it is essential to acknowledge this trend in both leaders’ styles. Many of Tesla’s employees have observed a curious fact: Elon Musk shows signs of an authoritative leadership style (Miller, 2022). The same ideas regarding authoritarian tendencies surfaced in 2020 among Amazon employees. The criticism of the leadership style of Jeff Bezos comes primarily from its employees, especially low-ranking ones (Yohn, 2020). In order to achieve maximum productivity, frontline workers were exploited by the company with its frantic obsession with customer satisfaction (Yohn, 2020). Such a notion might be considered a flaw, yet it did nothing to stop Musk’s and Bezos’ advances.
The first difference is the innovative views on industries that might have little attraction now but significant promises for the future. Musk would not allow a product that his inner perfectionist would not consider ideal, which sometimes causes products to be postponed (Miller, 2022). At the same time, Amazon’s services often cause disruptions due to their unexpected appearances (Quellmalz, 2021). Another difference is the target of their objectives: while Musk often talks about humanity as a whole, Bezos considers an individual customer to be the focus of the company (Miller, 2022; Quellmalz, 2021). At last, judging from the descriptions of interactions between the two leaders and their employees, Musk appears to be more involved in his companies’ internal affairs among lower organizational levels.
In conclusion, both Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos present themselves as true visionaries who tend to lead their companies via transformational style with a hint of authoritarian tendencies. After this research, I came to believe that Elon Musk is a better leader, as his way of inspiring action appears to be more considerate and positive for society. While Bezos is truly a master of innovation, Musk’s vision of the future provides unparalleled motivation.
Miller, H. L. (2022). 4 ways to apply Elon Musk’s leadership style. Leaders. Web.
Quellmalz, R. (2021). Jeff Bezos’ leadership style at Amazon. Topic Insights. Web.
Sinek, S. (2009). How great leaders inspire action. TED: Ideas worth spreading. Web.
Whetten, D., & Cameron, K. S. (2016). Developing management skills (9th ed.). Pearson.
Yohn, D. L. (2020). Amazon faces a crucible moment with employees. Forbes. Web.