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Leadership Comparison: Elon Musk and Hillary Clinton

Paper Type: Free Assignment Study Level: University / Undergraduate
Wordcount: 2840 words Published: 27th Apr 2020

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Here I will try to portray the leadership styles of two of the most inspiring leaders of modern times. Out of these two iconic leaders, one was chosen as a “good” and one as a “bad”. I will compare and contrast these leaders with their individual leadership traits, ethics of each in effecting there moral character, how they way they communicate to influence people, the style of leadership they mostly fall in and why I think they are successful as a leader and why I think they failed as one.

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Two Influential Leaders of Modern Times

Leadership styles change with time, two very influential leaders of our time are Elon Musk who is an innovative visionary who is taking mankind into the future and another figurehead whose strength and resilience has influenced and women into the next century is Hillary Clinton. Both these iconic leaders have very different visions and ways they lead and influence people, but at the same time share so many of the same traits, in the end share a broad common goal, to better the world. I will try to depict in this writing one leader who I feel is a good leader and why and one leader I feel is a bad leader. Keep in mind both Elon Musk and Hilary Clinton have both positive and negative sides to their leadership style and like everyone positive and negative leadership traits. With two leading influential leaders of this century, who possess so many great qualities, it all comes down to character that I separate the two into good and bad leaders.

The Five Models of Personality and Traits of Leaders

Comparing and contrasting these two leaders should give insight on the traits these two these two iconic leaders have, and you give you a more intimate knowledge of who they are.

Surgency: Elon Musk is not afraid of the Spotlight. He keeps a positive attitude and is the dominant one when it comes to his work. He speaks at numerous events, such as unveilings of new products and charities. He is very interactive with his audience and welcomes feedback and gaining his audiences favor and attention.

Hillary Clinton is very dominant, tough, competitive, resilient, and ambitious women who stands firmly on her own two feet. Being a public figure, she is very meticulous the way she is perceived in the way she holds herself in the public eye, she is always in control of her emotions and keeps them hidden.

Agreeableness: Elon tends to have significant fallouts with some very significant business players. He takes his business and ideas seriously. He believes in his ideas and is willing to make sacrifices to make them happen, to include losing top executives and investors. Those that choose to follow him strongly believe in his ideas as well, this shows trust and confidence in their leader. A person who challenges, change or don’t believe in his ideas, most likely find that they no longer work for him. This can on occasion make Elon a difficult person to work for.

Hillary Clinton shares a similar alpha male attitude; she can be bossy and augmentative. When she is agreeable professionally it’s it because she sees a benefit for herself, which not necessarily a bad from a leader’s perspective, sometimes a leader gains so do the people who work closely with them. She loses her temper quickly when not in the public eye and on rare occasion in the public eye. Tends to be very aggressive and slightly sexist. She surrounds herself with people that can-do things she can gain from working with a mental attitude of “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine.”

Adjustment:  Elon Musk Lacks this portion in Self-awareness, Social awareness, Self-Management, and relationship management. He t is hard of his employees and tends to lash out if they don’t follow the guidelines he gives them. He has extremely high demands and expectations of his employees and will chew them out if his expectations aren’t met, even in public.

Hillary has a low ability of adaptation in many scenarios and likes things planed and scripted. She likes to control the environment around herself as much as possible.

Conscientiousness: Elon Musk is very consistent in this category. He lives his life in a very organized manner as well as being very dependable. He has strong integrity and lays down a strong foundation in these areas in his companies. His work ethic is said to be extremely high working up to 15-20 hours a day, though he doesn’t expect as many hours as 15-20 he does expect the job to get done if that is what it takes for his employees to finish then that is what is expected.

Hillary Clinton is very organized and diligent. She is hardworking and motivated. Her academic performance has been exceptional growing up. Where Hilary lacks is her integrity, she has been implicated on several occasions involving wrongdoing, the email scandal, using the Clinton foundation involvement in the distribution of funds and exchanging favors as Secretary of State and during her presidential campaign. Even with these scandals she pays close attention to the possible negative of her actions.

Openness: Elon Musk is a risk taker. He is a highly intelligent innovator who believes in himself and his ideas. He flexible but not in the traditional sense; he tends to shift the industries with his ideas and work to make things happen.

Hilary doesn’t appear to be creative in policy and problem solving, she borrows policy and ideas from current or formal leaders. Hillary is very predictable in the way she will react to situations in the public eye and can give the perceptions of very little “transparency.”

Leadership Attitude and Ethics

When it comes to these two leadership attitudes and their theories I would say Elon Musk is a Theory Y in the positive side. He accepts feedback and has high expectations for his employees in order to be successful in their task. On the flip side, he is a risk taker and is not afraid to make decisions that are risky as well he can be bossy.

Hillary falls more under Theory X on the positive side because she is bossy and pushy. She is a very cautious person and reserved and puts a lot of emphasis on her public persona, making her a bit of pessimist.

When it comes to ethics Elon Musk leads from the front and by example when it comes to his work ethic and his integrity. He is not afraid to stand up what he believes and stick behinds his decisions.

Ethics is where many have a problem with Hillary Clinton. Hillary is implicated in several conspiracy theories in her career, and evidence has disappeared on more than one occasion. One could speculate that she is involved either directly indirectly on that alone. Even though there is no evidence so far and very little to nonexistent pursuit of the truth and because evidence has disappeared on more than one occasion is very suspicious. Integrity is important when it comes to leadership, these criminal implications true or not have chipped away at Hilary’s character. She seems to be more motivated by her sense of how she is perceived and her compliments than being motivated by serving humanity, like Elon Musk is.

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Communication is the Key

Elon Musk ability to creative think along his critical thinking skills is one of the main contributors of Elon Musk success. Another great attribute Elon Musk possesses is excellent interpersonal skills. Collaboration with his employees which a lot of the time he is interactive in a team on product designs. Even though Elon is known to be tough on his employees with his high expectations, but he is also very inspirational. Elon believes it is a simple written communication; one of his top policies is to be effective and efficient in all aspects of the job primarily in communication. Here is a letter Elon Musk writes to his employees demonstrating and stating how communication will work in the company.

“Communication should travel via the shortest path necessary to get the job done, not through the ‘chain of command.’ Any manager who attempts to enforce chain of command communication will soon find themselves working elsewhere. “A major source of issues is poor communication between depts. The way to solve this is to allow free flow of information between all levels. If, in order to get something done between depts, an individual contributor has to talk to their manager, who talks to a director, who talks to a VP, who talks to another VP, who talks to a director, who talks to a manager, who talks to someone doing the actual work, then super dumb things will happen. It must be ok for people to speak directly and make the right thing happen.”

“In general, always pick common sense as your guide. If following a ‘company rule’ is ridiculous in a situation, such that it would make for a great Dilbert cartoon, then the rule should change”(Bariso, 2018).

Transformational and Motivational Leadership

Elon Musk and Hillary Clinton share a Transformational leadership style as leaders. Both Elon and Hilary are visionaries of where to take this country in the future both are inspirational in their own way. Both are dominant and have their goal in which to succeed, and both will display bad and good traits and moments of good and bad leadership. For some people certain traits weigh more when choosing to follow a leader when it comes to what is right and what is wrong.

Elon Musk is a Transformational style leader one of inspiration and vision for the future. He motivates people to buy into his vision and to deliver that vision. He is one that manages the idea he believes in and builds strong and trustworthy relationships with those who he has motivated to share that vision. Some say the downside to Elon is that if you don’t share that vision, you won’t be on-board in his company. Is that so bad? Shouldn’t we all try to build a team that shares our vision? Wouldn’t a lot of time be wasted in conflict, instead of moving forward to achieve what we set out to do? I see that as a strength and a brilliant business strategy when building any business. He created a team of likeminded people with a common goal. He chose those individuals in a selection process then influenced and motivated them further. He built a work environment with individuals who shared similar values, and This takes a lot of hard work and careful thought. A vision by itself is just a vision. It will remain that way unless short term goals, project management, sensitivity management, and self-discipline are ingrained in not just oneself but for your but for the whole team, he accomplished this with his employees. Like all leaders good and bad there are weaknesses and his lacks in sensitivity management, which can be a demotivator altogether. He pushes his employees harder than they would push themselves. Greatest needs to be pushed and squeezed out of people otherwise everyone would be great. He sees something more in his employee’s than they do, and he squeezes innovation out of them.

He has stated that he hasn’t applied any one type of leadership theory and uses a variant of them all, dependent on the situation. This fits in with Path-Goal Theory. An example is when his company reported a high rate of injury at one of the Tesla plants he sent out a letter saying

“It breaks my heart when someone is injured. I’ve asked that every injury be reported directly to me, without exception…I want to meet with each injured individual so I can understand, from them, exactly what we need to do to make it better. Then I will then go down to the production line and perform the same task that they perform. Managers at Tesla lead from the front line, not from some safe and comfortable ivory tower.”

Two types of Path-Goal Theory, one is the wellbeing of his employees is essential, and the other is recognizing the necessity of the organization’s goal building a successful product. Elon has set many goals for his employees and continues as a leader to remove roadblocks that are in their way.

Hilary Clinton is an inspiration to many women across the nation. She challenges many issues like gun reform and stands up for women rights, inspiring others to act, which showing the public her tremendous values. Hilary decision to run for the 2008 US presidency took courage and has inspired female leaders across the country to run for US president. She is by far, one of the most resilient leaders of our time. Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State and those of the nation who follow her to Transcend their self-interest for the sake of others. Leadership styles affect the effectiveness, productivity, and motivation, and Hillary has an overbearing way of doing that. Even though Hillary is an introvert you would never notice, she keeps her emotions in check in the public eye and maintains a positive attitude in tough times and adapting to change and disappointment.

She is well known for women’s right and has influenced many political movements. Even though Hillary is an inspiration to many women, a lot of her influence comes from her leading from the front. Not only is she one of the few prominent influential women of today which can contribute to her strength, resplendency, she has astonishing history of achievements, which is very admirable. Many times, you will hear where she has failed, in her influence is her many controversies and scandals, like Benghazi, conflict of interest in the Clinton Foundation, Whitewater, Travelgate and improper use of email servers. Integrity is trust ant that is a big part in leading if people do not trust your failure is imminent.


Being a leader is no easy task. Regardless of the style of leadership you use or the situations you are forced to deal with the character of a leader stands to be a main reason why people would want to follow an individual. Integrity, work ethic, leading by example and how we communicate with individuals is the reason people chose to follow one more over another. Elon Musk and Hillary Clinton are great leaders of our time and as I tried to portray each one of them I found it hard to give an unbiased outlook. I found it difficult because Hilary simply didn’t fare well because of her integrity and the way she communicates. If you want to be a good leader you need to have the respect of your followers, be more courageous and you have to sacrifice. To do that you have to do the right thing. An honest person is a trustworthy person.


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