What a Musk Meltdown Can Teach Us

Washington D.C. 

Elon Musk illustrates something very important about leadership and human nature itself. 

We like to lionize the lone geniuses in business and technology, imbuing them with vast superpowers and mythologizing them with folkloric gloss. It's an especially prevalent tendency in the United States where, of course, we then like to tear these "heroes" back down to Earth.

It's a predictable leadership narrative. The trouble is that the stories focus almost exclusively on IQ during the mad genius' build-up. Howard Gardner (multiple intelligences), Daniel Goleman (EQ/emotional intelligence) and others remind us, however, that there are many forms of intelligence. We need all of them in order to succeed and sustain in the long term. 

It's likely that Musk's lack of self-awareness creates an inability and unwillingness to self-regulate that, if not managed well in coming days, will hurt him, his employees, his investors and the great promise his ventures offer. I continue to root for his success because, quite simply, we need these kind of visionaries.

Healthy intelligence at work over the long run requires emotional intelligence to balance a raw, ambitious and ego-driven genius that can otherwise implode. Is Musk imploding right now, before our very eyes? Let's hope not. 

So let's make sure when we brand somebody a genius that we're thinking about more than traditional brainpower. As we all eventually learn, IQ can get you hired, but EQ can get you fired. It happens every day.

 Image courtesy of Mediaite.