Leadership of Richard Branson as an Historical Entrepreneur
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Richard Branson’s Success
Richard Branson has emerged to be one of the 21st century historical entrepreneurs owing to his leadership style and personal characteristics. In the past twenty years, Richard Branson has realized remarkable recognition in the business world in which he has expanded his investment in an array of ventures. His interest in business developed long ago during his elementary education when he dropped out of school and established a mail-order business. Later on, he transformed his mail-order business into a record label, in 1970s. It is quite surprising to learn that Branson adopted reliable business leadership approaches in his business leading to a rapid expansion (Dearlove, 2007). It was during its initial successes that Branson owned record stores, which bore the Virgin Records brand. In 1980s and 1990s, Branson extended his business venture into airlines in which he established the Virgin Atlantic Airways. In addition, he expanded his business further when he established a Virgin record label in the US. Another significant advancement of Branson’s investment was the establishment of a space tourism company named Virgin Galactic. His intention for establishing this company was for reaching orbital trips around the world owing to the remarkable growth of global tourism (Walenius & Westerstål, 2010). Currently, Branson owns the Virgin Group which is valued at $5 billion. Virgin Group consists of over 200 different companies including cellular phone companies, airlines and record labels.
Richard Branson’s Success
Richard Branson’s success in business is attributable to his leadership style, which exhibit goal oriented business approaches. In theory, leadership entails “the ability of an individual to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute toward the effectiveness and success of a team” (Dassie n.d. par. 2). As such, Richard Branson manifests all the features of a successful leader as the CEO of the Virgin Group in which he embraces laissez-faire leadership style to enhance teamwork within the organization. Walenius and Westerstål (2010) reaffirm this leadership style by stating that Branson “spends a lot of time in the early days of a new business, drawing the big picture and helping the management setting the business plan and the way forward; when this is done he takes a step back and let us the management get a stake in the business and drive it forward” (par. 18). In addition, Branson’s remarks explain his laissez-faire leadership style. One of his favorite remarks states “the company must be set up so that it can continue without me.” As a result, Branson has been able to retain his business managers because he gives them an opportunity to exploit their capabilities in enhancing performance. In most cases, Branson hires managers and assign them to a given venture, and then move them to another one where they fit in case they prove incompetent in their initial post. He always endeavors to see that his managers achieve their best in their respective ventures which are autonomous in nature. This implies that managers responsible for the management of their respective companies, although the Virgin Management Ltd provides management assistance.
From an aesthetic perspective, the key elements of Richard Branson’s leadership style can be explained to justify his nature of delegating responsibilities to his managers and colleagues. It is believed that Virgin organization has realized remarkable success because of Branson’s visionary leadership. He has been serving as a visionary evangelist in which he embraces communication within the organization. It is belie3ved that Branson demonstrates immense confidence by believing that the organization bears immense potential for success in the ever competitive global market. In his leadership, Branson encourages his staff to articulate the organization’s vision and objectives by ensuring that a reliable collaboration exists among the employees. On the other hand, Branson has been devising appropriate strategies to maintain the high standards of the Virgin organization, even after spearheading the ‘virginization’ of different industries. This has, probably been possible through the adoption of a reliable leadership culture which ensures that employees are creative and responsive. In addition, Branson encourages all members of the organization to harmonize the corporation by fostering internal and external cultures. As a result, Branson has been able to captivate new future prospects for Virgin Group despite the challenges posed by the scope of different business ventures.
On the other hand, Branson exhibits exceptional self-knowledge in his leadership of Virgin organization. Branson gained vast treasures of leadership lessons during his upbringing, and this has enabled him to apply cognitive abilities and hands-on experience to expand his empire. Wharton School (2005) reports “Whom Branson is as a person is related to whom he is as a leader and the identity of his companies. Branson believes that his leadership style has its origins in his upbringing, where his parents taught him to stand on his own two feet; at age six, his mother would shove him out of the car and tell him to try to find his own way home” (par. 5). It is evident that, Branson learned his leadership skills through real-life experience. This is probably the reason as to why he overcame all challenges when he founded his first company at the age of 16 years. His enthusiasm in investment can be attributed to his leadership experience that, he has gained during the organization’s expansion from the record store to 350 different companies. As such, his experience enhances his confidence in realizing success, and this is evidenced in his remarks “I’ve had to create companies that I believe in 100%...these are companies I feel will make a genuine difference; then I have to be willing to find the time myself to talk about them, promote them and market them. I do not want to spend my life doing something that I’m not proud of” (Wharton School, 2005, par. 6).
The third key element of Branson’s leadership style is that, he is a team and consensus builder. He is known for creating a friendly workplace environment for all his employees. This can be evidenced by the fun working atmosphere which serves as a unique characteristic of Virgin Organization. In addition, Branson seeks to create organizational cultures that enhance the participation of all members of the organization including stakeholders to build a dynamic team. Moreover, Branson exhibits exceptional team building capabilities by developing a sense of loyalty among his employees. He also shows immense interest in their personal growth and career development. As such, Branson has established a productive team in which there are few conflicts because employees are always willing to share their responsibilities for the success of the organization. Therefore, it appears evident that Branson’s leadership style meshes successfully with the attributes of the Virgin organization.
In regard to employees’ motivation, Branson has several ways in which he can motivate his employees. In general, there are two principal ways of embracing employees’ motivation: incentives and trust building. In practice, Branson has been showing employees’ motivation motives in his leadership. This can be explained by his decision to have $500,000 which was awarded after winning his lawsuit against British Airline, shared among his employees. This was an outstanding way of showing his concern on the welfare of his employees. The fact that, this decision was an extraordinary phenomenon enabled his employees to gain substantial self-esteem and recognition. Precisely, Branson is known for having his staff well compensated, and this enhances their work performance. Therefore, increasing incentives to his employees will enhance high work productivity within the organization and the ultimate3 result will be rapid expansion of the organization. The second way of employees’ motivation is by building trust among the staff. Wharton School (2005) acknowledges “Branson has developed a level of trust with his top managers by setting the direction and then stepping back to let them navigate” (par. 12). Therefore, he can achieve impressive results by embracing this aspect because it enables employees to exercise their freedom and commit their potential for business success. However, it is worth noting that Branson’s approaches to employees’ motivation may not work with other organizations. This is so because most organizations exhibit autocratic leadership styles which do not focus on employees work satisfaction.
Ideally, managers desire to work with employers who appreciate their contribution. Therefore, the criterion I would apply in evaluating Branson’s leadership relevance to my management would focus on investigating employees’ satisfaction with their employer and career development. Ordinarily, a suitable leadership style grants managers an opportunity for personal and career development. On the other hand, employees’ satisfaction with their employer reflects the level leadership, especially with regard to the organization’s success. However, the fact that Branson allows his managers to exercise freedom in their management justifies the suitability of his leadership style.
It appears that Branson exhibits qualities of a global leader. This is so because he shows extensive dynamic ability. The fact that he controls the organization successfully with remarkable growth; year-by-year justifies his status as a global leader. In addition, Branson seems to stick to his goals, especially with regard to business management. This aspect is reaffirmed by Walenius and Westerstål (2010) by stating “when judging successful wealthy leaders and comparing to the general impressions they give, but Branson seems to act according to what he claims, and thereby he is also considered a trustworthy leader” (par. 24).
Conclusively, it appears that Richard Branson has inclined his organization on the ladder of success. This can be evidenced by the extensive expansion of the Virgin Group which consists of 350 companies. The vast nature of his investment has enabled him to develop extensive leadership skills. Therefore, it is suggestive that, Branson will achieve advanced success in his leadership, and the ultimate result will be further business expansion in the next five years. Moreover, Branson’s success in the next five years will also be enhanced by the current wave of globalization. For instance, global tourism industry is experiencing rapid growth owing to the increased number of international travels, and this will ensure that Virgin Airlines harness the emerging opportunities in tourism. It is also believed that, Branson’s ability of seizing new opportunities in the global market will enable him to start new companies.
Dassie, E. (n.d.). Successful Leadership - Sir Richard Branson. Retrieved from http://adedass.tripod.com/id4.html
Dearlove, D. (2007). Business the Richard Branson Way: 10 Secrets of the World's Greatest Brand Builder. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.
Walenius, M., & Westerstål, D. (2010). The Leadership Style of Sir Richard Branson. Retrieved from http://michael.walenius.se/the-leadership-style-of-sir-richard-branson/
Wharton School (2005). The Importance of Being Richard Branson. Retrieved from http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/the-importance-of-being-richard-branson/
- Quote paper
- Caroline Mutuku (Author), 2018, Leadership of Richard Branson as an Historical Entrepreneur, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/429852