Leadership of Richard Branson
Branson will go down in the annals of British history as one of the brightest entrepreneurs of all time. In fact, Branson’s role in the success of the Virgin Group of businesses is enormous. Thus, it is not surprising that Richard Branson is regarded as a transformational leader, an English business magnate and a successful investor. Branson is the founder of the Virgin Group, an enterprise that comprises more than four hundred companies (Branson, 1999). Its business operations can be found in various fields that are spread across the globe.
The success of the business is attributable to the efforts and leadership skills of Richard Branson. One wonders how it is possible for an investor to attain so much success in many diverse fields. There is no doubt that Richard Branson has unique attributes of responsible leadership for the success of the Virgin Group. Branson is understood to be a visionary evangelist since he indicated in several interviews that his drive in life is to live life in the best possible way. Branson is renowned for always setting goals too high and working to achieve them.
Branson envisages a scenario where the Virgin Group would be able to grow to large magnitudes without compromising on its standards and quality of services (Branson, 1999). His visionary trait is also proved by the many challenges he has overcome in his business endeavors. To reduce risks, Branson has diversified his operations into numerous fields. His other attribute that has driven the business to great heights is that of being a team and consensus builder.
Branson realized the need to build and work around a motivated team. It is reported that rather than create an environment for earning a paycheck, Branson dedicated his resources towards creating an environment where everyone desires to be part of organizational success. Besides being motivated, employees are accorded an opportunity to exercise their skills and take part in decision-making. The management also focuses on involving workers from lower cadres. In particular, junior employees are accorded an opportunity to make decisions (Branson & Prescott, 2000). Such unique and flexible working attributes have contributed towards the success of the Virgin Group.
Branson has previously undertaken steps towards motivating his employees. In one instance, Branson was awarded compensation as part of a settlement with British Airways over a dispute that entailed ‘dirty tricks’ by the latter. The amount received by Branson was paid out amongst the employees as a motivation or reward for their services of labor (Branson, 2002). Two ways in which the founder is likely to motivate his employees is through monetary rewards and creation of a favorable environment for working and professional practice by employees.
Money is a motivator. Every rational human being or employee would prefer a reward or competitive compensation (Branson, 2002). Where such is done, the morale of employees is enhanced leading to improvements in performance. The result would be attainment of organizational objectives. The other form of motivation is favorable working environment, therefore, it facilities the attainment of objectives since people are in a position to focus on work instead of encountering distracting activities.
An organizational environment that takes into account the input of its employees would stand to benefit greatly. Employees feel appreciated and encouraged given that they have a say in the proceedings within their place of work. They feel as part of an organization as opposed to mere workers. An organization would also gain from the high volume of ideas advanced by employees. Where many people are included in deliberations regarding a certain aspect, there is a possibility of attaining hybrid decisions (Schultz & Schultz, 2010). Branson’s means of motivating employees are through monetary rewards and the creation of a favorable working environment (Branson, 2002).
The approach used by Branson would be effective in any organization. The reason is that his approach concentrates on the important part of management. It caters for the proper management practices where employees are motivated to expend their best efforts towards organizational prosperity. Thus, employees deal and interact with other parties, which transact business with the organization positively. As Schultz and Schultz (2010) observed, the performance is impressive in any organization where employees are motivated.
Richard Branson has been effective in communication of his vision for the company to both employees and stakeholders. Communication is an important aspect towards the success of a business enterprise (Schultz & Schultz, 2010). Through communication, stakeholders become aware of what an organization stands for and how it would go about attaining its objectives. Those who undertake to take part in any capacity towards the activities of a business have been guided accordingly.
The communication of the vision of the Virgin Group to employees guides them on expectations. This has been successful given that employees have performed their duties exemplarily. Such indicates that a founder communicates to those called upon to undertake assignments clearly towards the accomplishment of assigned duties.
Other stakeholders include partners, financiers, the external environment and others. The communication has also been effective on the vision of the group since no cases of major disputes or misunderstanding between the Virgin Group and other parties have been reported. Through brochures, interviews and websites, Branson communicates to the world about what the Virgin Group strives to achieve and what it stands for (Branson, 1999). As a result, third parties understand the enterprise and are informed when they transact or engage the business on any platform. As Schultz and Schultz (2010) observed, appropriate communication is critical towards the success of an organization, since besides giving information to stakeholders, it defines objectives and targets for employees.
Assuming I have been selected for the role of a manager in the Virgin Group, I would use the following criteria to establish or determine whether Richard Branson’s leadership style is good or bad for a manager. His level and manner of involvement in the affairs of the business would indicate if his style is positive or negative. A good style of leadership is one that takes part in the happenings of the business albeit to understand the systems and manner of operations (Branson & Prescott, 2000). The founder would be in a better position to understand the employees when he knows exactly what it takes to undertake certain assignments. Any decisions made regarding the affairs of employees and the business would be sound and prudent.
A reasonable involvement would also act to guide the junior managers on how to handle particular roles effectively; it would also offer the best leadership compared to the one that is not in touch with work and the plight of employees. A favorable working environment is a prerequisite towards an impressive performance (Hersey, Blanchard, & Johnson, 2001). My take on the kind of leadership by the founder would be based on his commitments towards addressing and improving the state of the welfare of employees as a way of motivation.
Policies that seek to improve the environment for employees would be desirable and they might be implemented under the leadership of Branson. Encouraging improvement of employee welfare activities and programs indicates that the founder is a good leader. He should be able to implement what he says he stands for and strives to achieve. Many people, including his employees, would understand him as being honest and trustworthy. Such would build confidence in him and his activities. Therefore, in order to evaluate Branson’s leadership style as good or bad requires assessing his involvement in management affairs and his commitment towards a favorable working environment.
The history surrounding the activities of Richard Branson indicates that he is a global leader. His head teacher once said to have told Richard that he would either end up in jail or become a millionaire (Branson, 1999). That shows that his unique attributes were noted, while he was young, and still in school. It is also true that Branson started business at a tender age of 16 years. Very few people begin from such low levels, and rise to become global entrepreneurs. In the year 2012, the Forbes magazine reported that Richard Branson was the 6th richest citizen in the United Kingdom.
Branson’s activities and programs enhance humanity and improve the standards of living for humankind. His efforts towards the conservation of the environment have been notable. In September 2006, Branson pledged to invest profits generated from Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Trains in research and studies aimed at conserving energy and the environment (Branson, 1999). In 2007, Branson set up a global prize to be awarded to any person or organization whose efforts would have had a major influence towards humanity through technological advancements, leading to climatic stability in the world. Branson together with Peter Gabriel, later in 1990s, held a discussion with Nelson Mandela on the possibility of forming a small group of leaders to be referred as elders (Branson, 1999). Their role would be an objective approach towards resolving disputes and promoting peace across the African continent. In 2007, Nelson Mandela on his 89th birthday announced the formation of the group which was headed by Kofi Annan.
The above engagements demonstrate that Branson is a global leader. Besides the success he has enjoyed in various fields of business, he has also taken a role in promoting peace and humanity through his direct involvement of sponsorship aimed at promoting such noble events. Very few entrepreneurs have the urge and capacity to attempt what Richard Branson has achieved, and continued to undertake. For those reasons, Richard Branson is a global leader.
Over the next five years, Richard Branson would have attained a lot more than he has accomplished as at the current date. His next venture is in the field of the environment. Although, Branson was once a skeptic of global warming, he changed after a breakfast meeting with AL Gore, leading to plans aimed at exploiting the possibility of investing in revolutionary cheaper fuels for automobiles and aircrafts (Branson & Prescott, 2000). The aim is to attain affordable means of energy to drive such machinery. The result would be an affordable system of transport for the low-income earners which is also friendly to the environment.
Richard Branson is a determined individual. He will achieve even greater success in the future. In the event that his breakthrough in cheaper fuels for automobiles and airlines succeeds, his business would become affordable to many passengers. Such is in line with the law of demand which prescribes that, the higher the prices, the lower the demand, and vice versa (Hersey, Blanchard, & Johnson, 2001). Thus, the airline would be competitive, leading to the collection of high incomes. The success would also fuel diversification efforts. Thus, the founder becomes the ultimate winner. However, other parties stand to gain, although in different measures. For instance, employees and consumers of the service or goods would also enjoy from increased variety and availability. Therefore, greater success is projected for Richard Branson in the coming five years.
Management is an imperative factor that determines if a business attains success or failure. Richard Branson has demonstrated how appropriate leadership leads to immense success in business. His leadership style is based on open-mindedness, self-awareness, motivational, visionary, teamwork, consensus building, and winning determination. These attributes have been part of the Virgin Group founder’s working philosophy that has propelled his business into great heights across the globe. Good leadership enhances the chances of succeeding in business.