Sir Richard Branson is one of the most successful and most influential persons in the world of business. Born Richard Charles Nicholas Branson, he is known in the world over for his significant contributions in the economy and innovations. He was born on 18 July 1950 in Surrey, England. His father is Edward James Branson who was a barrister. His mother is Eve Branson who was a flight attendant.
At a young age, Branson struggled with dyslexia, making his school life harder for him. In fact, he almost failed out of Scaitcliffe School, an all-boys institution, which he attended until he was 13 years old. After that, he attended Stowe School in Buckinghamshire, England.
Background of Richard Branson
Branson started displaying his leadership prowess at the early age of 16. He dropped out of high school and went on to start a youth-oriented magazine called “Student” in 1966. In its first edition, Branson’s publication sold $8,000 worth of ads. Three years later, while living in a London commune, Richard started a company called Virgin, which offered mail-order records to obtain funds for his magazine. This record company performed well enough to let the self-made billionaire expand his venture. Branson then built a recording studio in 1972 in Oxfordshire.
Today, Branson is known for being an icon and adventurer. He has built an empire of 400 companies under the Virgin Group, which includes a bank, bridal wear, mobile phones, pension plans, music, hotel chain and airlines. His company is one of the most recognized and respected brands in the world. He was also listed as one of Forbes eligible billionaires in 2012. In the United Kingdom, he ranks sixth in the richest citizens with a net worth of #4.6 Billion. What makes this amazing man so inspirational is that he was a high school dropout yet he turned himself into a billionaire after 40 years of hard work, determination and perseverance.
Aside from being a business magnate, Richard Branson has written books titled Like a Virgin: Secrets They Won’t Teach You at Business School, Losing My Virginity, Screw It, Let’s Do It, Business Stripped Bare, Reach for the Skies and Screw Business As Usual.
In an interview with Dan Schawbel, Branson said that his leadership style is rule breaker. He said, “I never learned the rules in the first place. To change the game is at the heart of what Virgin stands for, so the company culture has always been: Don’t sweat it: rules were meant to be broken.”
Branson’s Virgin Group is considered the only brand that transcends such a wide array of products and services. And despite that, his brand has become stronger rather than diluted. This is why many people look up to him not only for his lavish lifestyle but also for being a dynamic and symbolic entrepreneur with multi-colored ideas for ads, innovative strategies and a cheeky attitude. But most of all, he is admired for his leadership style with an aim to help create great leaders in any kind of workplace. Although he might have had his fair share of failures along the way, what makes him incredibly admirable is his determination to come out of it.
Key to Success
What makes Richard Branson a successful leader is that the words usually connected to his name include fun, anti-establishment, warm, friendly, risk taker, adventurer, opportunist, fast, competitive, hard negotiator and workaholic. According to trait theories of leadership, all of which make up a good leader.
Aside from that, Branson maintains a healthy leader-member relationship with all his people. He treats his employees as equals, like family and with respect. In fact, he goes out of his way to give invitations to his junior members for parties in his own home. The business tycoon also welcomes feedback and suggestions from his employees. Plus, he gave his staff the freedom to be creative. His organization has no established procedures on how things should be done, and works on flat and non-hierarchical structure. Instead, it is made of clusters. His staff are given freedom to work without much interference from superiors. With all this in mind, Branson’s leadership style is more democratic and participative.
Branson has a participative leadership style, too. He believes that “no one can be successful alone and you cannot be a great leader without great people to lead.” So his leadership style boils down to caring for his employees. He also said that he believes in the art of delegation, in finding the right people and in giving them the freedom and push to flourish on their own.
The eclectic entrepreneur also believes that a great leader is someone who is genuinely interested in people and who strives to bring out the best in them. He also advised that to succeed, it is important that you build a great team that believes in what you do. Because Sir Branson is people-oriented, he believes that praise always changes people’s game plans. By offering praise generously, people will flourish. And if leaders promote people more than what they expect, they excel because showing them that you trust them makes them more confident in their respective tasks.
What Makes Branson Successful
Another thing that makes Branson a fantastic leader and inspiration is that he has strong contingency and situational leadership skills, as well. He’s always proactively looking for opportunities and takes every chance he gets to create a new company that is viable. Branson has also mastered the art of controlling situations and using techniques that will fit the situation and the context. What’s more, he constantly proves that he has the ability to implement changes immediately.
Branson is also a transformational leader. He is able to adapt easily to change in organizational cultures. This is evidenced by the fact that he has bought new firms and transferred to new locations with his staff. What makes Branson a transformational leader is that he is able to rise in times of distress and major changes. This kind of leadership also reflects social values. And since Richard’s company Virgin is a focused on growth and adaptability to change, the transformational leadership style works best.
Sir Richard Branson is a leader who puts his employees’ interest first. This is because he believes that this not only inspires them, but also motivates them to work harder and feel at home as members of the Virgin household.