Navigating Change at Twitter (X): Elon Musk’s Leadership and Its Impact on Organisational Culture and Employee Well-being


The transformation of Twitter (X) under Elon Musk’s leadership, following the foundational era of Jack Dorsey, signifies a notable turning point in the company’s trajectory. Musk’s unique blend of transactional efficiency and transformational vision departs from Dorsey’s approach (Hays & Kay, 2022; ET Tech, 2022), with far-reaching implications for Twitter’s strategic direction and workforce.

This article will investigate further the impact of these distinct leadership styles on the employees at Twitter. It critically examines the balance Musk strikes between the clarity of transactional leadership and the motivation of transformational leadership.

Drawing upon the foundational theories of Burns (1978) and Bass (1985) and augmented by empirical insights from Hoogh et al. (2015), Tahir (2015), and Shang (2023), this discussion will explore the nuances of Musk’s leadership in terms of employee morale, organisational culture adaptation, and the concept of leadership ambidexterity in the evolving digital landscape.

Impact on Employee Well-being

Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter instigated significant changes, affecting employee well-being (Rafferty & Jimmieson, 2017). Musk’s leadership style, blending directive methods with visionary elements, has had dual impacts on staff. His directive approach, focusing on immediate results and structural changes (Bass, 1985; Rafferty & Griffin, 2006), has potentially heightened employee stress levels. Conversely, Musk’s vision aims to inspire and unite the workforce towards common goals (Tahir, 2015), which might alleviate some of this stress.

The rapid organisational shifts, including extensive layoffs, have likely caused uncertainty and concerns about job security (Ahmad & Biyani, 2023). However, the energising aspect of Musk’s vision offers a counterbalance.

Additionally, the recent appointment of Linda Yaccarino as CEO introduces new dynamics to Twitter’s leadership structure. This leadership transition, critical for morale and stability, necessitates precise management and alignment with the company’s evolving goals. It presents an opportunity for Twitter to reinforce its organisational culture and address employee apprehensions, thereby contributing to improved overall well-being during this transformational phase.

Resistance and Acceptance of Change 

In Musk’s leadership at Twitter, marked by swift changes and rigorous performance metrics, resistance among employees is a likely outcome. This resistance, often resulting in lower productivity and job satisfaction, as Halkos (2012) noted, arises from the challenges of rapid change in a dynamic setting.

However, Musk’s transformational leadership traits, which Tahir (2015) highlights for their motivational impact, present an opportunity to mitigate this resistance. Musk could create a more accepting and engaged workforce by blending transactional efficiency with transformational inspiration (Bass, 1990; Bass & Avolio, 1990)  

A key strategy for Musk would be to communicate performance goals while conveying Twitter’s future vision. Clear expectations and an inspiring vision can increase employee buy-in, easing the transition process and fostering a more adaptable workforce.

Leadership Styles and Organisational Culture

During Elon Musk’s tenure at Twitter, his leadership has interwoven transactional and transformational styles, significantly impacting the organisation’s culture. Transactional leadership, focused on efficiency and immediate outcomes (Bass, 1985), has cultivated a goal-oriented environment but could potentially hinder innovation and morale. In contrast, transformational leadership, aiming to inspire and develop employees (Burns, 1978; Tahir, 2015), encourages a culture of creativity and strategic foresight.

Musk faces the challenge of balancing these contrasting styles. Merging transactional leadership’s assertive, results-driven nature with transformational leadership’s empowering, visionary aspects could achieve a harmonious cultural balance. This approach aligns Twitter’s immediate needs with an innovative, growth-supportive environment crucial for long-term success. This balanced leadership style aligns with the adaptability highlighted in previous discussions, reflecting the dynamic needs of modern corporate environments.

Critical strategies for change management at Twitter might include:

These strategies will prepare Twitter for continuous and future changes by blending practical experience with theoretical insights, ensuring effective change management in a dynamic digital environment.


To manage Twitter’s transformation under Musk effectively, several key strategic recommendations are critical:

By adopting these strategies, Twitter could streamline its transformation, enhancing resilience and adaptability within its culture. This balanced approach weaves together empirical evidence and theoretical principles to support innovation while prioritising employee welfare. Top of FormBottom of Form


In conclusion, through the lens of transformational and transactional theories, this analysis of Elon Musk’s leadership at Twitter reveals significant impacts on employee well-being and their adaptation to change. The intersection of Musk’s dynamic leadership approach, encompassing both transactional efficiency and transformational vision, underscores a complex interplay in the organisational change process.

Critically, the article highlights the importance of strategic communication, participative decision-making, and leadership adaptability in mitigating the challenges posed by such a transition. These strategies, rooted in empirical research and theory, are vital in fostering a supportive and resilient organisational culture.

Twitter’s success hinges on harmonising leadership styles to maintain innovation and ensure employee satisfaction. Understanding the human aspect is vital for navigating change and shaping the company’s future in the digital landscape.


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