Leadership of Sir Richard Branson
June 17, 2021
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Sir Richard Branson was born on 18th July 1950 and became one of the most famous business magnates in England. He is more known for the founding of Virgin Group that includes more than four hundred companies. Richard Branson started his first business when he was sixteen; it was a magazine, which was entitled Student. In 1970, Branson ran a mail-order trace commerce, which led to a series of record stores. In 2012, Sir Richard Branson was the 6th richest person of the UK and had about 4.6 billion dollars.
When Richard Branson earned enough money from his record store, he, together with Nick Powell, launched the record label Virgin where Branson installed a record studio. Sir Richard Branson established the record commerce when he ran the magazine Student, where he advertised the popular records (Ankeny, 2012). Later, his trading business received the name Virgin. The first artist who made the record on the Virgin Records was Mike Oldfield with his single В“Tubular Bells.В” The song received the great popularity in the UK, and it stayed on the UK charts for 247 weeks. Branson used this success to sign other musical groups, including Sex Pistols. Other famous artists such as the Rolling Stone, the Culture Club and Genesis helped Virgin Music to climb up to the sixth position of the best record companies of the world.
The establishment of the record studio was not the only business that Sir Richard Branson was going to run. After the successful startup of the Virgin record studio, Branson decided to expand his company. In 1980, he established a new travel company, which received the name the Voyager Group. In 1984, he also established the Virgin Atlantic Airlines and the series of Virgin megastores. However, the rapid success of Sir Richard BransonВ’s enterprises was not steadfast. In 1992, Virgin Company could not resist the financial problems that arose. As a result, a year later, Richard Branson had to sell the company for one billion dollars to THORN EMI.
Such step was necessary, though it was a great loss for Branson, and he could not even fight back his tears when he signed the contract. Nevertheless, despite this tragedy, he did not surrender and continued to implement his ideas. In 1993, he ran a new project, and this time it was the Virgin radio station. Fortunately, the new project was successful and in 1996 Branson established a second record company, which received the name V2 (Clodagh. 2012).
Nowadays BransonВ’s Virgin Group consists of more than four hundred companies that are located in more than thirty countries all over the world. The list includes the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, the United States, Europe, South Africa and Asia.
Today Sir Richard Branson is focused on the development of the tourism venture. However, his idea was not limited by the existed ways of tourism. Branson was one of the first who started developing space tourism. To achieve this goal, he cooperated with Scaled Composites to form The Spaceship Company. By 2013, the new company had already launched the first project; it was a suborbital spaceplane. The first test has passed successfully, and Richard Branson announced that his spaceplane broke the sound barrier during its first flight, and the flight was going well. Today about five hundred people have already bought tickets to flight on Virgin GalacticВ’s voyages.
Moreover, Branson is also famous for his achievements not only in business but also in sport life. In 1986, he crossed the Atlantic Ocean on his Virgin Atlantic Challenger II and a year later, he repeated the same crossing but this time on a hot air balloon. In 1999, he was knighted because of his contribution to the development of business in the United Kingdom. In 2009, Forbes provided the list of World Billionaires where Sir Richard Branson was number 261 with his 2.5 billion dollars. According to this fact, it can be said that Sir Richard Branson is one of the greatest leaders in the United Kingdom who used his own vision of a leadership style in order to develop his business and create a new type of company that has a new type of management. His leadership qualities gave him significant advantages over other similar companies and, thus, it was the secret of his success.
Sir Richard Branson said that his success was not predetermined by the stroke of luck but because of the right leadership position. However, there is no secret leadership formula that could give the ideal strategy of running business. The majority of people believe that the only difference between a successful leader and a less successful one is the knowledge of a particular method, strategy, approach or whatever that gives them advantages over competitors. In fact, this formula really exists, but it is not universal. Every good leader had its own methods and the way of thinking that differ them from others. Branson unraveled a mystery about his successful leadership style, and he said that it is the belief in oneself and what one is doing. Methods, styles, strategies and approaches will not work if one does not believe in themselves and those people who work with them. No one can achieve success alone, and one cannot be a good leader without a team of great workers.
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Sir Richard Branson often gives the example of Steve JobsВ’ success and his unique leadership style. He was a really talented person who had great ideas, and he demanded from his employees to be great as well. Steve Jobs had an autocratic leadership style; he was too meticulous to details and thus he surrounded himself with people who had the same behavior and attitude to work as he. Steve Jobs wanted to be aware of every detail, and he was very demanding to his employees (Alqahtani & Al-Enezi, 2012). Sir Richard Branson stated that he had the absolutely opposite approach, which contradicts the main principles of JobsВ’ leadership style. Sir Richard Branson always believed in the art of delegation; he tried to find people who had wide imagination and give freedom to act as it would be the best for Virgin. Branson said that when he established Virgin Records, he had even an idea to move from the company to another place in order to let the workers be able to feel freedom from the boss presence.
One should choose those people who have serious attitude to what they do and give them an opportunity to thrive and develop their skills as well as give the feeling that they make the business better. When a person realizes that their actions have enough power to bring a change into the business development, this person is able to perform more serious obligations, and there is no need to establish the constant control over such person.
Richard Branson outlined that one of the best features of a good leader is listening. He said that he often tries to establish good relations with all his people. A company is a big family; every employee is a member of this family. The only way to achieve the success in business is to work like one unit. When every employee tries to do best, the result is more than visible. However, in business as well as in a family, all members should not only introduce ideas but also listen to what other say. Communication is the most powerful tool that makes business strong (Ehrhart, 2012).
A leader is an example; it is a person who inspires their employees to become better every day. However, people will not listen to a leader who is afraid to make their hands dirty. Thus, a good leader should work together with their employees side by side because people prefer following only those examples that they can see with their own eyes.
Another feature of a good leader is love of what they do. If one does not enjoy what they do, they cannot inspire others for working well and with pleasure. A leader should find fun in their work; it should be a pleasure to work. Thus, a spirit of fun is the essential part of a company where all employees work as one team.
As a leader, Sir Richard Branson faced three biggest challenges. The first one was the financial crises that made him sell the company. The second challenge was support of the investors who did not believe that his leadership style could bring a company on a new level of development. The third challenge was the new leadership principles such as freedom of actions that was met with a sign of surprise by some of his partners who were the followers of the traditional methods.
Among the BransonВ’s achievements one may outline such as his participation in the working process. He was a real leader who did not afraid to dirt his hands and to demonstrate how the things should work. The second achievement was a full freedom of actions for his employees. He did not limit his employees with strict schedule; he believed that an employee can take a break when they need it and how long they need. In this way, the employee can demonstrate better result than if they are limited by time rules. The third achievement was listening to his employees. He was not only listening to employeesВ’ problems but also took into consideration their ideas concerning the companyВ’s development.
According to the Sir Richard BransonВ’s leadership principles, one may outline the following leadership concepts that are presented in his style. One of them is listening as it was mentioned before. The concept is one of the strongest because Branson received an opportunity to become closer with his people. A leader cannot run their business if they do not care about what other people say, especially what their workers say. Thus, Branson uses listening method to be aware of the moods that thrive in his company. Another concept that prevails in BransonВ’s leadership is transparency. Branson tries to be clear and open with his employees; it certainly brings many advantages to his business because there is no gap between him as a boss and those people who work with him as employees (Dahlstrom, 2013). The third concept and probably the most powerful is passion. Indeed Branson has a great passion of his business, he likes what he does, and he tries to demonstrate this passion to his employees and make them also feel it. Passion is the strongest mechanism that inspires people to work harder, longer and more effectively, and they do not experience fatigue.
According to these concepts, one may define the Sir Richard BransonВ’s leadership style in the following manner. Branson uses democratic approach in running the business and establishing relations with his employees. This fact certainly plays a positive role because there is no gap between the leader and his workers. Branson believes that a good leader should be part of the team but not to be over the team. Another strong factor that makes his business thrive is passion. Branson has passion to his work since he likes what he does and inspires others. Undoubtedly, the sincere pleasure of the work stimulates to do it better and motivates to be interesting in the work and, as a result, develops oneВ’s skills (Dahlstrom, 2013). However, strong passion is not only the best inspiration and motivation; it can also transform into the great depression as it happened with Branson when he had to sell his company. Unfortunately, the reverse side of passion is the anguish of bereavement, and some people cannot outlast this disappointment. Thus, passion has two sides, but one should remember that there are always good days and bad days. Sir Richard Branson understood it and, probably, it was the reason why he did not surrender and tried again later. His leadership style is targeted on a personВ’s development and full freedom of actions. He did not limit people only with his own ideas but always tried to listen to what other people think and say. However, even the greatest mind which is full of various ideas cannot be perfect and the ideas of other people could be not always useful, but they can become the beginning of a new passion.
The Implications for My Personal Leadership Style
From this research, I learned that good leaders are not born, good leaders are created. Branson said that there is no special formula that can help to become a good leader because every good leader creates their own principles that are necessary for running their business. Thus, it can be said that success depends not only on the skillful staff and great managers but also there should be something more that will unite all these people and it is one idea, one passion (Stare, Pezdir & Bo?tjan?i?, 2013). Every member of the team should be involved in the process, including the leader, and it is their responsibility to make this business work better. Moreover, I outline some of BransonВ’s leadership principles that seem rational and may bring benefits. Among them I can mark such leadership quality as listening to employeesВ’ opinion.
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In many companies, employees perform the role of workers; they do what they are said to do and their opinion is not very important. However, a person who works a certain period of time in a specific field becomes more qualified in some details of their obligations. In other words, if one wants to know how to improve the process, they should personally work in this sphere. Unfortunately, the majority of managers and bosses think that if they have the senior position, they automatically know better how it should be done. In fact, they have little information about the specific details of mechanism work, and those employees who work there have already learnt all its strong and weak sides. Thus, employees are those who know how the system can be improved because they have information about the thing that is needed to be developed, replaced or renovated. Thus, it can be said that the principle of listening of the employeesВ’ opinion is not only the demonstration that a boss cares about their employees but also is the effective method to know better what business aspects need to be improved or replaced.
According to Sir Richard BransonВ’s leadership style, I can outline the following principles that can be useful for my personal leadership style. First of all, I want to outline his non-autocratic manner of managing people. He gives his people full freedom of actions and despite the fact that it should bring chaos, it brings only benefits (Holmes & Branson, 2002; Branson, 2011). People are more willing to work better if there is no boss over them who gives commands every fifteen minutes or requires them to inform what they did during the last hour. If employees need another ten minutes break, it is reasonable to let them take it. Another principle that I would like to take is passion and team spirit. In fact, I believe that these two components are connected because one leads to another. A good leader such as Richard Branson had something more than a good idea for a new business; he had a dream and passion. A person who has dreams can work twelve and even sixteen hours a day, and they will not be bored since they will have a desire to work more and more because it realizes their dream faster. Thus, if the leader can share their dream with their employees and show what benefits it will bring to everybody, this dream will not belong only to the leader. In fact, it will be a team dream, and each member of this team will try to do something that will make this dream come true. To summarize, I want to say that Sir Richard Branson used new approaches in the leadership style, and they certainly brought him advantages and success.