Leadership Styles And Characteristics Of Richard Branson, Virgin Group. Essays Examples
Assignment 3: Leadership of Richard Branson
In discussing his leadership styles and features, Schawbel asserts that Branson is not only an international entrepreneur, but also the founder of the Virgin Group, an adventurer, and an icon. (2014, sec. 1). However, in the face of the vast amount of information on the subject of leadership, it is has proven problematic to give a precise and agreed upon definition of the term ‘leadership’. Over time, leadership has been conceived as a matter of personality and as a particular sets of style of headship behavior. Further information regard leadership as a power relation between persons on one hand and as a focus of group processes on the other. Most leadership definitions, however, reflect the assumption that managerial leadership involves a process whereby an individual exerts a profound influence on others in an organizational context. (Bratton et al., 2007, p. 487). Therefore, an impartial look at the great strides Branson has undertaken in the global business world clearly reveals his exceptional leadership attributes.
Subsequently, in analyzing his form of leadership, descriptive phrases connected to Branson in most cases usually underpins his leadership characteristics. According to Feloni (2014), Branson is a self-made billionaire and an individual who has never ceased doing things differently in his 40-year-plus career (sec. 1). For that reason, Branson has lived to be described as a creative and innovative individual, full of fun and competitiveness, a motivated workaholic, an adventurer, and a risk taker. (Gallo, 2011, sec. 2). The traits as mentioned earlier are part of the trait theories of leadership which are also part of the main characteristics of a successful leader (Stogdil, 1974, sec. 2). Sir Richard Branson possess a multitude of such characters. Additionally, rather than expecting people to follow blindly, Sir Richard banks on his inherent ability to get the best from his workforce. In the Virgin Business Group, for instance, Sir Branson demonstrates this leadership ability by creating a challenging environment for the Virgin's employees.
In many ways, Sir Richard Branson is the archetypal leader of the future global business enterprises. He infrequently intimidates, but rather inspires. Branson possesses that most precious of all leadership assets – credibility (Dearlove, 2010, p. 98; Preston, n.d, sec. 1). His multi-billion business empire and undisputable success in the company world validates his position as one of the very few in the global leadership rank. In justification for this multiple literature on him asserts that Branson obtains the utmost performance from his subordinates through a wholesome reverence. The modern view is that leadership relies on people being willing to follow. When Richard Branson started out in business back in the 1960s, there was little to suggest that command and control were crumbling, certainly not in the corporate world. By discarding hierarchical power in favor of inspirational leadership, Branson was 25 years ahead of time. According to Raymundo (n.d), Sir Richard has a profound respectable leadership concerning his leader-member relations and treats each and every employee of his with the utmost respect (para. 5). His virtuous relationship with the Virgin staffs enables him to collect feedback and new idea from his vast workforce. This unique relationship he has with his staffs has catapulted to truncated task structure in the Virgin since he gives his employees the freedom and personal initiative to be creative.
The employee freedom, initiative, and creativity has ultimately resulted in zero established formal procedures in which things are done in the company. His organization is therefore working on a flat and non-hierarchical structure. Such a structure is made of organizational clusters with the flexibility to work autonomously without much interference (Dearlove 2010, p. 98). Such factors partly attribute that Branson’s leadership is of much more democratic and participatory nature. In the face of Fiedler’s contingency theory, it is apparently clear that Sir Branson falls under the intermediate type of leader (Latham & Media, 2015, sec. 1). Under this categorization of leadership, leaders are task motivated and socio-independent – two traits explicitly demonstrated by Sir Branson. Furthermore, Sir Branson has unequivocally demonstrated his high contingency and situational leadership skills. In the course of his entrepreneurial life, Branson has always looked for and used every business as well as personal opportunity to create a viable venture. For instance, when he launched Virgin Records, in 1972 (Branson, 2012, para. 2). According to Dearlove, Sir Branson as a leader is also capable of controlling prospective business situations, and a demonstrated high-risk taker (Dearlove 2010, p. 99). In the course of his fifty plus career, Branson has been documented to follow different leadership styles and techniques according to the different situations and context his business presented (Fiedler, 1958, sec. 4). His flexibility has been one of the most important features of his administration. Concerning his flexibility, Branson has also shown remarkable ability to implement changes swiftly. For example, his Virgin Cola in the United States changed its business strategy, locality, and management when there was no prospect of winning the war against the Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola in the Cola Business. (Dearlove 2010, pg. 97).
How Branson’s leadership style meshes successfully with the Virgin Group of Business.
Since Richard Branson ventured into entrepreneurship early in his life, he has lived to be an active and successful leader. Despite his flops, his leadership attributes have enabled him to build his Virgin Group company into a global mega-business empire. According to Raymundo (n.d.) and Preston (n.d.), one of Sir Richard Branson’s numerous attainments is the creation of a global company in the name of Virgin Group of Business where employees at all levels feel valued by the corporation. (Raymundo, n.d., para. 3; Preston, n.d, para. 2). This close-knit family of employees has also enabled Sir Richard to promote his employees successfully from within the company and build the kind of business leaders he requires to run and manage the enterprise. (Schawbel, 2014, para. 6). Even though Branson’s leadership means and management philosophies have been widely criticized, it cannot be disputed that he has built an extremely successful business domain. His broad criticism stems from the fact that his management strategies are opposites from many of his counterparts. These differences he attributes to “Rule-breaking” (Sir Richard Branson as cited in Schawbel, 2014, para. 6). A number of his unique leadership styles has successfully enabled him to head his multifaceted virgin organization.
Firstly, Branson’s charismatic and transformational leadership attributes have played significant roles in the management and upsurge of the Virgin Business Group. As clearly itemized earlier in the paper, Branson has validated his level of flexibility and success in adapting to changing organizational environments. Numerous literature materials clearly show that the assessment of transformational leadership positively correlates with the evaluation of an organizational, managerial performance, employee endorsements for promotion and the average percentage of the goals of the strategic business. According to Richard Branson on “Strategies for Success,” the Virgin group is a society focused on growth and constant change (Branson, 2012, para. 2). In this society, Branson’s values and goals are the driving force of the whole corporation. A brief overview of transformational and charismatic leadership theories suggests that leaders may achieve relevant entrepreneurial goals by making employees identify with their style of leadership. (Richard Branson as cited in Schawbel, 2014, para. 3). Thus transformational approach, is one of the unique management style of Virgin Group under Sir Richard Branson.
Secondly, Sir Richard Branson ability to influence the behavior and actions of his employees is another unique aspect of his leadership style in Virgin Group Businesses. According to Dearlove (2010), Branson’s leadership clearly mirrors a relationship through which one person influences other people towards a common goal or purpose (p. 99). In this particular case of the Virgin Group, this means that one cannot entirely detach Sir Branson’s governance style from the activities of Virgin Group and the active team building within the organization. Feloni (2014) supports this sentiment by stating that the single key contributor to the Virgin Group’s feat is the leadership style of Richard Branson. In examining Branson’s leadership style and management strategies in this context, his knack to influence and dexterity to build a common idea among his employees are renowned (Gallo, 2011, sec. 1).
Branson (2012) maintains that a leader only earn leadership and respect from those he or she leads (para. 4). Earning the respect is something that Branson appears to do a lot in his line of business. One of the several ways through which Branson does this is through his sense of impartiality and evenhandedness in how he treats people especially his employees (Preston, n.d.). Leadership impartiality lies true with Virgin, an organization centered on perpetual growth and change. Consequently, this Branson leadership strategy has brought about growth and empowerment among his workforce.
Finally, conceivably one of the several powerful traits in Virgin's management under Branson’s leadership style is his untiring resolve to accomplish his goals, despite obstacles in his way. (Branson, 2012; Dearlove, 2010, p. 98). Therefore, the direction the Virgin Group, as an organization has taken, has largely been determined by the influence Sir Richard Branson has used when changing his employee's mindsets and in creating specific organizational objectives and desires. The net outcome of his influence has been the changes in how the Virgin’s workforce consider what is desirable in terms of Virgin’s goals. As a result, Branson has been able to instill passion for particular goals on his employees. Regardless of some external circumstantial negativity, Branson’s obstinate shaping of the vision for his corporation and his aptitude to infuse personal desires to those of his employees is the reason for Virgin’s continued success and growth. (Dearlove, 2010, p. 100). The above discussion further provides muscle to Sir Branson’s skeletons of bare leadership traits and attributes. Branson’s leadership styles offer a glimpse of his effectiveness to communicate and articulate his personal visions to both his company employees and other stakeholders. For instance, according to Raymundo (n.d), Branson build Virgin into a global powerhouse by focusing on the company’s customer service and employees (para. 1).
Ways in which Branson motivates employees in order to achieve his goals for the Virginia Group
Literature divulges that Branson can be described as both a visionary leader and a coaching leader. As a visionary leader Branson has been able to motivate people especially his employees and clientele to work towards a shared goal. While as a coaching leader Branson has been labeled as a man who trains and grooms his employees for leadership positions within his Virgin Group. This attribute has become a part of who he is and clearly displays through his leadership of the Virgin Group. His visionary quality and coaching skills are one of the several ways through which Sir Richard Branson motivates his employees. And do I think that his approach can work in a different organizational setting? The answer is “YES.” The "yes" is because, with his unconventional leadership methods, Branson has still found success in the business world with his leadership style, despite the critics. Therefore, if his leadership style has proven beyond the reasonable doubt that it works with the Virgin Group why not other organizations. In addition, as a coaching leader, Branson’s leap in developing his leadership clique within his organization has been an important motivating factor to his followers. As a coaching leader, Sir Branson has perpetually focused on developing individuals and shaping them to connect their personal goals to the general objectives of the Virgin group. His dedication to creating personalized leadership stems from his appreciation of the fact that he and Virgin group needs dependable leaders in order to maintain the company at the global competitive and successful level. This realization, however, can also be ascribed to the fact that the Virgin Group is simply too large for him to micro-manage. In a nutshell, his coaching attribute empowers and motivates his employees in such a way that the overall corporation goodwill rewards diligence and hard work. Therefore as a leadership style and management strategy, Branson's exemplary coaching trait can be successfully applied to the management functions in any organizational setting with tremendous results. In addition to his visionary character, Branson strongly supports promoting from within as earlier noted. This duo leadership styles can successfully be adopted in organizations where the workforce continuously feel unappreciated within the work environment. This is a practical approach to leadership within the business realm.
Concerning the criteria to evaluate the goodness of Richards Branson’s leadership style, one way is to assess the influence of the company’s culture on its members of staff. This choice of criteria is based on Preston’s analysis that Virgin places a heavy focus on both people and the planet (n.d. para. 2). A positive result analysis will automatically therefore reveal a good fit for managerial growth and employee development as well as an elevated customer satisfaction levels.
Branson, R. (2012, November 19). Richard Branson on Inspiring Employees. Retrieved March 15, 2015, from http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/224932
Bratton, J., Forshaw, C., Mills, A. J., & Mills, J. C. (2007). Chapter 16:Leadership in an Organizational Context. In Organizational behaviour in a global context (pp. 483 - 502). Retrieved from https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=eTpoNm5U_JwC&pg=PA485&dq=Leadership+of+Richard+Branson&hl=en&sa=X&ei=OxQEVbnBLI3XauuYgMAM&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=Leadership%20of%20Richard%20Branson&f=false
Dearlove, D. (2010). The unauthorized guide to doing business the Richard Branson way: 10 secrets of the world's greatest brand builder. Retrieved from https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=9rCh_e8mhksC&pg=PA98&dq=Leadership+of+Richard+Branson&hl=en&sa=X&ei=dh0FVZ_oJKPU7AbKj4HoCw&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=Leadership%20of%20Richard%20Branson&f=false
Feloni, R. (2014, October 17). Richard Branson's Leadership Rules - Business Insider. Retrieved March 15, 2015, from http://www.businessinsider.com/richard-bransons-leadership-rules-2014-10
Fiedler, F. (1958). Fiedler's contingency theory. Retrieved March 16, 2015, from http://www.leadership-central.com/fiedler%27s-contingency-theory.html#axzz3UbN5vD9k
Gallo, C. (2011, June 29). Richard Branson: The One Skill Leaders Need to Learn - Forbes. Retrieved March 15, 2015, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/carminegallo/2011/06/29/richard-branson-the-one-skill-leaders-need-to-learn/
Latham, A., & Media, D. (2015). The Advantages of Fiedler's Contingency Model | Chron.com. Retrieved March 16, 2015, from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/advantages-fiedlers-contingency-model-18368.html
Preston, J. (n.d.). Richard Branson: how to energise your employees - Virgin.com. Retrieved March 15, 2015, from http://www.virgin.com/entrepreneur/richard-branson-how-energise-your-employees
Raymundo, O. (n.d.). Richard Branson: Companies Should Put Employees First | Inc.com. Retrieved March 15, 2015, from http://www.inc.com/oscar-raymundo/richard-branson-companies-should-put-employees-first.html
Richard Branson Leadership Principles. (n.d.). FreshYoungMillionaire. Retrieved from http://www.freshyoungmillionaire.com/richard-branson-leadership-principles/
Schawbel, D. (2014, September 23). Richard Branson's Three Most Important Leadership Principles - Forbes. Retrieved March 15, 2015, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/danschawbel/2014/09/23/richard-branson-his-3-most-important-leadership-principles/
Stogdil, R. M. (1974). Trait Theory. Retrieved March 16, 2015, from http://www.leadership-central.com/trait-theory.html#axzz3UbN5vD9k
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