This summer, Elon Musk made headlines with his direct proclamation that Tesla employees must return to the office for a minimum of 40 hours a week. His remark of “If you don’t show up, we will assume you have resigned,” has drawn criticism from other CEOs and interested parties. Regardless of whether you agree with his decision or not, he has made one. These are our thoughts on decision-making.
Elon’s message is that he believes it is safe to return to the office and if you do not want to, you are free to leave. If an employee has enjoyed working from home, they are free to find another remote job with another company. His tact and delivery can be debated, but what cannot be debated is his commitment to making a decision and acting upon it. The return to the office mandate may not be popular with his employees or outsiders, but it remains to be seen how it will impact his workforce. However, the larger point is decisions have to be made and once you have committed to a decision, you cannot waiver on it.
Leading with Strength
When COVID-19 hit the United States, the workforce was thrown into a tailspin. Some companies shut down completely, some went remote, some had rotating schedules where groups of employees would come in at different times, some had half weeks, and some kept on working with renewed safety protocols and monitoring. Regardless of what decisions were made, organizations and employees adapted and moved forward. Some employees may have complained, but overall people accepted their situations and continued to work hard at their jobs. Those organizations that didn’t succeed in this time were the ones who couldn’t make decisions or didn’t have the necessary leadership to provide strength to their people.
People Want to be Led
For better or worse, people are willing to follow a leader that makes decisions with conviction, especially during a time of uncertainty. Employees might not like the decisions being made, but there is a sense of security with instruction and guidance – a sense of at least a direction. Indecision from leaders create a sense of fear and panic and may even lead to people making their own decisions. People are willing to be led, even if they aren’t supportive of the direction. What we learned over the last few years is that no matter the decision organizations made, it gave people a starting point to make their own decisions, and most accepted the direction they were given.
Elon Musk’s confrontational tone in his return to the office mandate may have rankled his workforce and observers, but he has demonstrated leadership through decisiveness with conviction. In turbulent times, employees look to their leaders for guidance and direction – even when it may be unpopular. The worst thing a leader can do is be paralyzed by decision-making. Your people will follow you if they know the expectations. If you are struggling with decision-making, contact us.