The one rule you should steal from Elon Musk to be more successful

Elon Musk can send the stock market into a frenzy with one tweet. But beyond his quirky personality, he’s a visionary who strongly embraces core management principles — and there is one rule you should steal from his playbook if you want to be successful.

No, it doesn’t have anything to do with sleeping under your desk to meet a deadline, like the Tesla founder famously does during times of intense production. It’s the no-silo rule. The silo mentality — when departments operate independently and don’t share information with each other — is pervasive to organizations and individuals alike.

A few years ago, Musk sent an email to all Tesla employees describing the downfalls of silos and encouraging his team to avoid them at all costs.

“There are two schools of thought about how information should flow within companies. By far the most common way is a chain of command, which means that you always flow communication through your manager.”

“The problem with this approach is that, while it serves to enhance the power of the manager, it fails to serve the company,” he wrote, calling the friction caused by a long chain of command when information has to travel back and forth “incredibly dumb.”

Musk continued by encouraging any Tesla employee to talk to anyone else, regardless of their rank, to solve a problem, favoring the greater good of the organization as a whole and faster problem-solving.

“The point here is not random chitchat, but rather ensuring that we execute ultra-fast and well. We obviously cannot compete with the big car companies in size, so we must do so with intelligence and agility.”

He wrapped up his email by reminding managers to not only be mindful of silos, but also to actively fight them on a daily basis, since creating an “us versus them” mindset can be a natural human tendency.

“How can it possibly help Tesla for depts to erect barriers between themselves or see their success as relative within the company instead of the collective? We are all in the same boat. Always view yourself as working for the good of the company and never your dept.”

Besides the fact this email alone is a masterclass in the importance of information transfer, it also matters for your own success. Here are four reasons why — and how to apply the no-silo rule to your career in a beneficial way.

Encourages big picture thinking

Breaking down silos encourages you to think about the big picture and be continuously mindful of new developments that affect your industry and company. This keeps you on your toes and helps you avoid the trap of complacency, as you need to actively keep up with what’s going on outside of your role and department.

That kind of high-level mindset translates well to developing leadership competencies, flexing your critical thinking and climbing up the career ladder.

Makes you a better communicator

If you’re faced with a problem that requires you to bypass the chain of command, you’ll learn very quickly how to communicate in a way that is both effective and people-oriented.

When you favor speed and quick reactions, it’s true that you might inevitably end up being more direct and honest, which could ruffle a few feathers. That’s when you’ll learn how to balance effective communication, influence and diplomacy in a way that gets the job done. And it’s a career skill that will take you far.

Promotes collaboration

Fighting silos requires an incredible amount of collaboration across departments. You have to align cross-departmental priorities and goals with the company’s vision, make sure key stakeholders are aware of what needs to get done and how to execute, and follow up and through.

Aiming to embrace a no-silo mentality will help you become a better team player, which will ultimately benefit your own career and help you get promoted.

Fosters results

At the end of the day, being a successful professional means you can bring results to the table. And when you’re continuously avoiding silos and breaking down communication barriers, you’ll foster an environment where there are better overall results.

Those collective wins also count as individual success, especially if you’re a contributor who constantly helps the group reach goals. And that turns into plenty of career advancement opportunities for you.