Elon Musk is in the news often these days, for his successes with SpaceX and for his failings with Tesla.
His latest idea is to put Uber out of business with automated driving.
He is a prime example of an “Opportunity Leader”, someone focused on innovation and creation of new products, new markets, and new technologies.
On the flip side, many small and medium sized business owners are “Problem Leaders”.
They are focused on firefighting, fixing problems, and fine-tuning operations.
All leaders have to do a certain amount of Problem Leadership, especially when their business is in start up phase.
But at some point, the leader has to shift her/his attention towards innovation, growth and development.
Last week I was discussing this concept with a client who runs a very high profit multi-million-dollar business. He has good middle management, and runs a diverse yet very consistent business (kudos!); and yet he was worrying why a specific client was not signing back up with him this year.
I admit this attention to detail is what makes him so successful, but it will ultimately plant the seeds of his company’s stagnation….unless he shifts his attention to developing the next leader, the next property to buy, his next competitor, his next growth opportunity.
All successful companies have both Opportunity and Problem Leaders. It is what made Apple so successful, with Tim Cook dealing with logistics as Steve Jobs innovated.
I predict it will also cause Tesla to fail, because Elon Musk mistakenly thinks he can do it all.
Your Challenge: Decide which type of leader you are, and make sure both roles are being filled in your business. As a CEO, you often have to do both roles, but if the majority of your time is solving problems, then neither you nor your middle management are set up to succeed and grow.