The Consistently Problematic Leadership of Elon Musk Actually Has One Insightful Tip for Managers

Elon Musk may not be a good boss by many measures, but he has one trait that experts say other bosses should emulate: holding managers to the same standards as their employees.

Just before Thanksgiving Day, Musk sent all Twitter managers this message: "all managers are expected to write a meaningful amount of software themselves." He went on to compare a software engineering manager who can't write code to a cavalry captain who can't ride a horse.

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And while Musk has been erratic, questionable, impulsive, and sometimes insulting to his new subordinates, experts at Business Insider say that his expectation for managers is something that's been swirling around the office culture conversation for quite some time.

Managers are "alarmingly distant" from the work their teams are doing, says Ed Zitron, author and founder of EZPR, a media relations and PR company. And the inability of managers to gauge how long work takes, the effort it takes, and what kind of work is useful makes someone who should be a team leader into an ineffective organizer.

One criticism of Musk's request is that management and coding require two different skill sets, which can be said about any job and its accompanying administration.

"Coding requires intense, uninterrupted concentration," says bestselling author on creativity Scott Berkun, "while management requires dealing with constant interruptions and context switching."

Furthermore, Musk's reason for asking managers to code is more about proving to him personally that they're capable of doing so and less about making the respective manager's teams feel like they have a strong leader.

Jackson Palmer, creator of Dogecoin, told Business Insider that in his interactions with Musk, he "had trouble running basic code" while simultaneously being "obsessed" with reviewing it — perhaps an example of the very managers he was critiquing.

However, Musk's message shouldn't be muddled by his ludicrous leadership style: management has become too removed from the work their staff does on a daily basis, and that needs to change.