A man of many companies, someone who's net worth is almost ten times more than Queen Elizabeth, Richard Branson is one of the most idolised and sought after entrepreneur and leader in the capital industry. For someone who started as young as 16 to start entrepreneurial projects, Branson has proved that thinking outside the box and innovative thought process can only help you grow. He owns as many as 400 companies under the very well-known Virgin group, all of them are well recognised and respected, running successfully, and his net worth is 5.2 billion dollars. Not only that he has also written some really great books like ‘Losing my virginity', ‘Let's do it', ‘Reach for the skies' and ‘Screw business as usual'. Branson for his entrepreneurial and leadership services was ‘knighted' in the Buckingham palace in 2000. He is a leader who is like a shining beacon of hope in the world where conformity is thought to be answer to success.
Branson leads the way out of conformity to open up a whole new avenue of possibilities and opportunities. One of his lifelong campaigns as he fondly calls it, is to not wear ties and in fact he snips the ties of unsuspecting wearers because he thinks formal clothing for corporate life is a form of conformity to fit in. Leadership in itself is a Prowess and every prowess is a well-defined expertise area. Richard Branson can be called the knight of the Prowess of leadership. The Trait Approach theory of Leadership analyses the qualities required for situational leaderships and prescribes the traits that every aspiring leader should be driven by. Richard Branson has shown all the five major traits prescribed by the compilation of this approach.
Leadership approach ( Trait Approach , Skill Approach and Behaviour Approach)
Talking about intelligence, Branson in an interview with the Daily Telegraph said, “Leadership doesn't have a secret formula; all true leaders go about things in their own way." Every leader needs to formulate his thinking and intelligence all the while being able to execute innovation. But, of course, no one can execute any decisions or ideas without having confidence and self-esteem. Any leader must be self-confident enough to motivate and be the beacon for his/her employees.. You know better about your business than anyone else, don't let anyone make you think otherwise.
In an interview when Branson was asked about his self confidence he boldly replied , I was dyslexic when I was in school. I was hopeless in my exams. According to me it applies to lot of dyslexic like to excel at things u cant do ,u should be able to find out people to do things you cant do . I dint not know the the difference between Gross and net till I was 50 . At an amusing board meeting in virgin when they were discussing about the bad figures , one of the directors took me out and explained on a blank piece of paper . He drew some fishes in the sea and fishing net and then he explained saying Richard the fishes in the net are you profits end of the year and fishes outside are the profits I dint get . Then I thought I was not making as much as I wanted , I always thought it was other way round. At that point I actually understood the actual meaning of gross and net . But till then I had biggest group of private companies in Europe and it really din't matter whether u understand these things ir not .What actually matter is that can u create a airline in which people would like to fly one and that's what I am good at . you don't need to know the complex things in order to build a virgin .
If Branson didn't believe in Virgin Airlines he wouldn't become a man of $5.2 billion. You cannot think of being a successful leader without exercising authority because every once in a while tracking of you employees and guiding their execution of your decisions is needed. And this perseverance can only come in with Determination and dominance. A Leader leads but he/she can only do so if they have some amount of authority and dominance. Determination can be successfully achieved only if your employees trust you. Richard always says that while being a successful leader you need to pay heed to what your employees are saying. In an interview with Inc magazine when asked bout how his company manages to be one of the best in providing customer service , he replied boldly
It sort of should go without saying and it6s surprising that it still doesn't go as expected in different companies . If a person who works at your company should be 100% proud of the jobs they are doing . if you give them the tools to do a good job ,if they are proud of the brand ,if they are looked after , if they are treated well then they are gonna be smiling ,they are gonna be happy , no doubt the customers will have a nice experience .if a person working in your company is not given the right tools ,is not looked after ,is not appreciated ,they are not gonna do things with the smile and this will directly or indirectly affect your customer and u never know they wont comeback to you for more.So my philosophy is always been ,put your employees first, your customers second and your shareholders third . Effectively in the end your shareholders do well ,your customers do better and your staff is happy .
Employees want to feel a part of the company, they want to be heard and they want to work for someone they can trust. Branson is a firm believer of Integrity and says that his employees are loyal to him because he has proven his loyalty to them. He classifies Listening as an important skill. Branson is a sociable man and is one who believes in socialising. From all his interviews and talks it's very clear that three L's are important for him- Listening to what people say, Learning as an immaculate process and Laughter as an ice-breaker.
Branson's Behavioral leadership skills are based on the words which are most commonly associated with his name - creative, fun, anti-establishment, fast, opportunist, adventurer, the Risk-taker, warm, friendly, competitive, workaholic and hard negotiator. In an interview (the hip pocket) when asked about been bold, he replied , “An incident that happened with me on set of Virgin Airlines. It wasn't even planned. I was 28 when I was flying from Puerto Rico to British Virgin Islands and American Airlines couldn't fly our plane out since there weren't enough passengers. As a joke I wrote on a blackboard that “Virgin Airlines” would fly a flight to my destination for $39. I got a plane, we paid the pilot and we were off, on the flight itself people said that if the services were sharpened a bit, I could start my own Airlines. Sometimes you just have to be bold.” And the rest is history now
All the above words describe his behaviour towards his work. Richard is a firm believer of enjoying work. In fact one of his famous quote is, “Respect is how to treat everyone, not just those you want to impress.” Branson's sees his employees as a priority and his success lies in his unusual way of leadership. His style can be categorize under the behavioral approach of relationships. His relationship with his employees is what drives his working style. He is of the opinion that even though he is credited for the net worth that his companies keep providing, his employees are the one who must be accredited for more than half of his success because it's just a few meetings and decisions undertaken by him and the rest is done and executed by each member of his company. Richard clearly is not a conformist and likes to create his leadership in a style that probably no one else can pull off.
For a person like Branson, skill sets are an important quality not only for his workers but for himself and the growth of his company too. Skills are like a pencil, you need to keep sharpening the tip to remain updated and always sharp. Branson says that he believes entrepreneurial skills and leadership skills are a continuous learning process and there is always one way or another to improve and be better.
The Skills approach of leadership tries to explain what set of skill does an effective leader possess besides his natural and instinctive traits. Discussing about the basic three-skill model by Katz, Human, Technical and Conceptual skills are the basis of successful leadership. As a man at the top most level of management, according of management principles, Richard Branson has ultimately achieved success because his leadership style is following the prescribed set of skills and in the right amount. Moving on to the skills model, the framework of leadership according to Mumford, is based on competencies (problem-solving skills, social judgment skills and knowledge), individual attributes, career experiences and environmental influences. This model believes that through job experience and training, leaders can become good problem solvers and much more effective leaders. It seems Branson's following quote sums up the skills approach, “Train people well enough so they can leave, but treat them well enough that they don't want to.”
Besides the fact that in layman's terms, Branson is a renowned and brilliant leader, through the discussions on various approaches of leadership he is everything that a perfect leader should be. A successful and effective leader requires a certain qualities, a sharp set of skills and the aspiration to lead any company to success. Along with being a great leader Branson is also a great listener and always looks out for advices.
A man of his words, Branson says that you must always have an eye and zeal for opportunities that interest you. If your work is not your play then you aren't living life. A successful business doesn't grow with only motivation and want for money but with the view of being an entrepreneur who is ready to lead and guide every one of his employees. To grow and stand at the level the Richard Branson is at; you have to always have a vision to grow and a vision to nurture. Train and build is the only motto that will help you be a leader and a successful one at that.
His idea of leadership is no doubt very different. He is a man who chooses his leaders by looking at their personality and not their CV's, he prefers hiring people with great experience rather than degrees. He definitely has an eye for talent. His simple business strategy is to literally screw business as usual. He has basic leadership principles. One of them is listening carefully what one has to say, learning from the mistakes and basically enjoying whatever we do. He believes in adopting new ideas, trying out new things, discovering something new, he likes innovation. This man believes in getting out of the comfort zone and working. Along with that he also believes in marketing and promotion of his brand for he thinks it is a very important step to make any business successful.
Richard provides us with hope that we need to breed and raise leaders in the world not bosses and conformists. Leaders who guide you to be better, leaders who have qualities that benefit everyone, leaders who were driven by an inner calling, leaders who are always to take up challenges, leaders who are willing to take like-minded people under their wing and leaders who are EXCELLENT CAPITAL ENTREPRENEURS.
Richard Branson Biography.com – Article by biography.com (2017)
Leadership approaches theories – PETER G. NORTHOUSE theory and practice – SEVENTH EDITION
Robert Half (2016) 9 leadership skills from Sir Richard Branson, Reverted from
Richard Branson Dealing with setbacks – Article by Rod Kurtz (2013)
Richard Branson three most important leadership principles – Article by Dan Schawbel for Forbes Magazine (2014)
https://www.forbes.com/sites/danschawbel/2014/09/23/richard-branson-his-3-most-important-leadership-principles/ - 570563313d50
Business Lessons from Mega Entrepreneur Richard Branson – Article by Zach Bulygo (2013)
Richard Branson : My six tips for every young Entrepreneur (2015)
Richard Branson, Screw It, Let's Do It: Lessons In Life, reverted from
Richard Branson (2017), Reverted from
Like a Virgin: Secrets They Won't Teach You at Business School (2012)
The Virgin way : everything I know about leadership (2014)
Richard Branson Talks Motivation and the Beginning of Virgin Airlines (2016)
Richard Branson: Talking Management (2011)
Richard Branson Explains His Secrets to Success - LinkedIn Exclusive (2013)
Richard Branson - I Educated Myself in the Real World (2015)
Richard Branson interview - Inc Magazine (2016)
...(download the rest of the essay above)