One leadership habit Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos actually agree on
Elon Musk and Jeffrey Bezos aren’t exactly known for getting along, but they’re at least similar in a few key ways — including that they’re some of the world’s wealthiest billionaires. Creating a legacy worth that much money owes itself to something for each of these entrepreneurs, not the least of which is leadership.
Musk and Bezos may actually agree on a handful of leadership qualities since they’ve led some of the world’s largest companies, but Inc.com notes one subject area in particular that can help anyone: how to handle criticism. Both Musk and Bezos have suggested in the past that it’s essential to be open to criticism, but that it shouldn’t define an individual.
To be sure, any company executive needs to understand how to accept criticism. But being a leader also requires a degree of individuality, as discussed regularly by the Amazon founder and former CEO in a tweet last year about a 1999 news story that talked about Amazon’s then-failures.
“Listen and be open, but don’t let anybody tell you who you are,” Bezos wrote. “This was just one of the many stories telling us all the ways we were going to fail. Today, Amazon is one of the world’s most successful companies and has revolutionized two entirely different industries.”
Listen and be open, but don’t let anybody tell you who you are. This was just one of the many stories telling us all the ways we were going to fail. Today, Amazon is one of the world’s most successful companies and has revolutionized two entirely different industries. pic.twitter.com/MgMsQHwqZl— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) October 11, 2021
Similarly, Musk has noted that being open to criticism is crucial, and he even takes it to a further degree by noting the importance of regularly assuming you are wrong.
“Constantly seek criticism. A well-thought-out critique of whatever you're doing is as valuable as gold and you should seek that from everyone you can but particularly your friends,” said Musk in an interview in 2015. “Basically, you should take the approach that you're wrong. That you, the entrepreneur, are wrong. Your goal is to be less wrong.”
Above: Elon Musk on criticism, critique and not being right all the time. Video: Matthew Travis / YouTube
Criticisms and hardships have been essential to Musk in his path to success, and his focus on being “less wrong” has made him a little closer to being right each time. Between Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink and The Boring Company, Musk has managed to “less wrong” his way to the top of some of the world’s most disruptive innovators.
You can learn several lessons from entrepreneurs like Musk and Bezos, and taking criticism with a grain of salt is a big one. Indeed, there’s a lesson to be learned from every encounter you have, even the ones where critiques may feel more like failures than successes.