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Elon Musk needs to delegate better, Richard Branson says

Sounding far from remorseful, Elon Musk has again been taking to social media to vent his spleen over what the Tesla (Tesla Stock Quote, Chart NASDAQ:TSLA) CEO sees as unfair treatment at the hands of both the US Securities and Exchange Commission and his favourite nemesis, market short-sellers.

But aside from laying off the Twitter, Musk needs to do a better job of delegating authority, says Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, who argues that visionaries like Musk shouldn’t occupy their time with the day-to-day running of companies like Tesla and Space X.

Last week and only days after settling with the SEC over charges of fraud, Musk resumed his diatribe against short-sellers, this time including the SEC itself in his comments, calling it the “Shortseller Enrichment Commission” and attacking investment firm BlackRock Inc., who he accused of unfairly making profits from short lending practices.

The news plus a Consumer Reports test that put GM ahead of Tesla in a ranking of automated driving systems negatively impacted Tesla’s share price which last week went from a high of US$311.44 on Monday to a low of US$260.00 by Friday, with the stock falling further this week.

Shareholders may be struggling over the dilemma of supporting Musk in his entrepreneurial creativity while at the same time questioning his leadership capabilities, but that riddle is easily solved, says fellow visionary Richard Branson.

“If you decide to go public, find a good managing director and a good chairman to run your public company and be the creative individual that he is. Don’t feel that you have to put out tweets and things about public shareholders,” says Branson.

“Leave the public game to people who enjoy the public game,” says Branson. “[Musk] obviously doesn’t enjoy it. Clear the deck so you can then concentrate on the creative side.”

Musk’s settlement with the SEC stipulates that he can remain as CEO of Tesla but must step down from his role as chairman for a period of two years. The settlement also came with a fine of $20 million each to both Musk personally and Tesla.

Branson’s comments were echoed by billionaire LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman who said that Musk needs to accept the fact that his drive to succeed will always be butting up against opposing forces.

“I think what he’s focused on is, ‘I’m trying to build something that three, five, ten years into the future and so I don’t want to be, oh, what does this month look like, what does this quarter look like?’” says Hoffman, to CNBC. “And so he’s interpreting it that way. Part of his grit, part of his determination to get to that long future is to push back against these obstacles. I just think it needs to be a different pattern than those tweets.”

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About The Author /

Jayson is a writer, researcher and educator with a PhD in political philosophy from the University of Ottawa. His interests range from bioethics and innovations in the health sciences to governance, social justice and the history of ideas.
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