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Leadership Style and Characteristics of Richard Branson, Virgin Group

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Autor:   •  September 9, 2017  •  Research Paper  •  2,336 Words (10 Pages)  •  353 Views

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Assignment 3: Leadership Style and Characteristics of Richard Branson, Virgin Group

LaVerne M. Bobo

Strayer University

Dr. David Wells

MGMT500 September 9, 2017


Richard Charles Nicholas Branson was born on July 18, 1950, in Surrey, England. His father was a barrister and mother was employed as a flight attendant who always challenged and encouraged him beyond the normal life’s normal limitations for a young boy to enhance their confidence, growth, and development. They also encourage Richard to think freely and voice his opinion.

 Richard was challenged at an early age with dyslexia and encountered many struggles during his school years. He eventually dropped out of school at the tender age of 16 at which he founded his first business, a youth-culture magazine called Student. Richard, along with other friends of his, launched his first edition in 1966 and managed to sell $8000 worth of advertising. To help fund his magazine, in 1969 Richard fostered the idea to begin a mail-order record company called Virgin.

The Virgin company performed modestly and the business was expanded with the addition of a record shop in Oxford, London. By the year 1972, the young entrepreneur built a recording studio. Experiencing financial difficulties, Richard was forced to sell his first recording studio, however he continued to venture into other music and airline venues that would bring profits to the Virgin group, which now holds more than 500 companies in more than 30 countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Canada, Asia, Europe and South Africa.

One may think how a young boy who struggled with a physical barrier of dyslexia and exemplified a behavior that rubbed against the grains of society be recognized today as one of the most brilliant and exponential leaders. It is the intent of this paper, to explore the leadership style of Richard Branson and the impact it had on the successful growth of his business.

Assess the key elements of Richard Branson’s leadership style and the impact that those elements have had on his business success. 

Richard Branson changed the game of leadership with his demeanor of being a rule- breaker. According to Branson, he never learned the rules of leadership (Schawbel, 2014). He (Branson) describes his leadership style as the change game at his company, The Virgin Group. The company’s culture has always been: “Don’t sweat it: rules were meant to be broken.” (Schawbel, 2014). Branson breaks down the top 10 rules that have motivated him and his employees throughout their journey at Virgin. They include 1) follow your passions, but protect the downside, 2) do some good, 3) believe in your business 4) have fun 5) don’t give up 6) listen more and talk less 7) make room for personal time through delegation 8) go out and meet people 9) communicate among all levels of your company, 10) be happy (Feloni, 2015). Branson believes that these rules helps break down the barriers in a business and keeps employees comfortable and open to sharing ideas (Feloni, 2015). These rules underpin Branson’s top three (3) leadership principles: listening, learning, and laughter (Schawbel, 2014).

As a business leader, Branson views listening as one of the most important skills. Because of his dyslexia, he constantly writes things down so he could remember them and claims it to be his secret weapon as a businessman (Feloni, 2015). Branson believes having such a skill enables employees to learn from each other and the market place (Schawbel, 2014). He has faith in his people and respect their ideas (Finkle, 2011). Branson also believes that learning and leadership are complementary of each other (Feloni, 2015). Giving credit to his relationships with some of the world’s most inspiring and inspired people is how he sums up his success with his company (Schawbel, 2014). Known for his pranks, Branson writes "Fun is one of the most important - and underrated - ingredients in any successful venture. If you're not having fun, then it's probably time to call it quits and try something else.” (Schawbel, 2014).

Based on Branson’s activities as a leader, his leadership style aligns with the Situational model, under the category of participating and delegating styles. The participating style is one where the leader shares ideas with subordinates, gives them a chance to participate, and facilitates decisions making, while the delegating style empowers follower to make the decisions (Daft, 2012). Branson tends to identify potential employees who brings to the table ideas and has the willingness to learn and be creative.

Given that The Virgin Group has been described as a fast-growing entrepreneurial company with many facets to the group, suggest how the unique aspects of Richard Branson’s leadership style mesh successfully with the particular attributes of a multifaceted organization setting.

Being a leader of a company of a multi-faceted organization requires leadership that is willing to step aside and allow the growth and creativity of its employees to flourish. To be in multiple places for the business is not realistic, especially if the business requires the presence of its leader.  The Virgin Group is comprised of many companies that requires leaders to make decisions frequently, some impromptu. Exemplifying leadership styles of participating and delegation lends a burden from Branson. By spending time in training and empowering his leaders, Branson can broaden his hierarchical organizational structure and rely on his leaders to lead with competency and demonstrate confidence in their decision making.

Determine two (2) ways in which Richard Branson is likely to motivate employees in order to achieve his goals for the Virgin Group. Indicate whether or not his approach is likely to work in a different organizational setting.

Motivation refers to the forces either within or external to a person that arouse enthusiasm and persistence to pursue a certain course of action (Daft, 2012). Motivation has an impact on the end performance of employees and it is key for leaders to understand what triggers that motivation. The goal is to obtain a successful behavior that brings success to the company. There are models of human motivation that can be used by leaders that are based on need, behavior, and rewards (Daft, 2012). Studies have found that high employee motivation performance goes hand-in-hand with high organizational performance and profits (Daft, 2012).

Branson created and invested in the Virgin Group with people who had somewhat similar work ethics as himself - having the guts to follow your passion and willing to take risks on something extraordinary (Feloni, 2015). To motivate employees with such character, it is my view that Branson would use the concept of content theories where the motivation is focused on the needs of the employees. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory proposes that people are motivated by multiple needs and that these needs exist in a hierarchical order – physiological, safety, belongness, esteem, and self- actualization with the latter at the top of the need.  With reference from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, ways Richard Branson can motivate his employees for retention and optimal performance is to be creative in addressing their 1) self-actualization needs by allowing opportunities for training, advancement, growth and creativity, 2) esteem – rewarding and recognizing employees 3) belongness – showing love and creating a family environment.


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