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In November 2022, Elon Musk sent a company-wide ultimatum to Twitter employees demanding that they either commit to working “long hours at high intensity” or quit and receive three months of severance pay. The combative message is just the latest in the sign of escalating tensions inside Twitter’s HQ. After Musk laid off half of the workforce upon acquiring the company in late October, including top management, hundreds resigned after the email ultimatum. One may conclude that Musk’s lack of emotional intelligence caused him to issue this ultimatum.

Emotional intelligence (EI) in the workplace begins from the inside out with every individual. It involves recognizing various aspects of your feelings/emotions and taking the time to work on the 5 elements of EI, which consist of self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. When Musk issued his email ultimatum, he showed no empathy for his new employees, or motivation to make his new “Twitter 2.0” a place where they feel safe and secure. His lack of self-awareness will create a culture of resentment and fear that will not keep talented individuals around for long.

If you are a people manager, take a moment to reflect on Musk’s mishandling and how you can raise your own EI in the workplace. Here are some examples to become more emotionally intelligent using the 5 elements of EI.

Self Awareness – Having the ability to recognize and understand your own emotions to be more aware of how your actions/moods/emotions effect your coworkers. If you come to work everyday with a positive attitude and reflect that positivity to those around you, it is contagious and can go a long way in the workplace.

Self Regulation – Having the ability to regulate/manage your emotions and appropriately expressing them. It is easy to let off steam when nothing is going right in your workday, but when you regulate your feelings instead of riding an emotional rollercoaster at work, you will become better at adapting to change and be more flexible.

Motivation – Being motivated by things beyond external rewards such as fame, money, and recognition makes for a highly emotional intelligent individual. Seek internal rewards such as learning a new skill or gaining experience to help do your job better.

Empathy – Having the ability to understand how others are feeling, is critical to emotional intelligence success. If you treat others with extra care and concern, your compassion might be able to lift their spirits because you never know what someone else is going through.

Social Skills – Having great social skills isn’t just for managers. Being able to interact well with others, including active listening and verbal and nonverbal communication skills can build strong relationships amongst your peers.

Musk spent $44 billion to acquire a company that hasn’t achieved much in terms of innovation in the past 5 years, and instead of self regulating, he needed to positively change the company with empathy and social skills.




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