Sir Richard Branson Case Study
I will discuss ways that I could incorporate Branson’s leadership qualities into my role at my workplace. Sir Richard Branson is the founder of Virgin Group. He was born in 1950 in the United Kingdom. Branson dropped out of school at the age of 16 due to having trouble in school in addition to being diagnosed with dyslexia. Branson began a student paper at the age of 16. He later started a mail-order business and a record label soon after. During the growth of the Virgin brand, Branson also ventured into Airlines and also started a record label in the US.
Branson started Virgin Galactic which is a space tourism company in 2005. Today the Virgin brand has more than 200 various businesses in over 30 countries (Dearlove, 2007). I believe that Branson’s leadership style is transformational. He is also appears to be a very charismatic leader. Transformational leadership is when a leader anticipates future trends that inspire followers to understand and embrace a new vision of possibilities, developing others to be leaders or better leaders, and building the organization or group into a community of challenged and rewarding leaders (Hellriegel & Slocum, 2011).
Transformational leadership has four components. Transformational leaders show individualized consideration which is the degree to which the leader attends to followers’ needs, acts as mentor or coach, and listens to followers’ concerns (Hellriegel & Slocum, 2011). These types of leaders encourage their followers to share ideas and constantly attain higher levels in order to reach their full potential. The second component of transformational leadership is intellectual stimulation. Followers are encouraged to be innovative and creative (Hellriegel & Slocum, 2011).
This is the degree to which the leader challenges assumptions, takes risks, and solicits followers’ ideas. The third component of transformational leadership is inspirational motivation. This is the degree to which the leader articulates a vision that appeals to followers (Hellriegel & Slocum, 2011). Transformational leaders have a clear vision that they are able to articulate to followers. These leaders are also able to help followers experience the same passion and motivation to fulfill these goals (Bass, 1985). The fourth component of transformational leadership is idealized influence.
This is the degree to which the leader behaves in charismatic ways that cause followers to identify with him or her (Hellriegel & Slocum, 2011). Due to the fact that follower’s trust and respect transformational leaders, they are more likely to internalize the leaders’ beliefs and ideas. Branson is known for taking out a notebook and pen when chatting with employees and customers. He is very involved with his company and employees. This shows that he cares about the suggestions, comments and concerns that his employees have within the company.
He believes that if employees are happy, they will do a better job. If they do a better job, the customers will be happy, and thus business will be good and the shareholders will be rewarded (Hellriegel & Slocum, 2011). In my opinion, this leadership would be extremely effective in the United States today due to the fact that this leadership style is known to lead to positive changes in the people who follow. The current global recession has created a whirlwind of workplace turmoil that has taken a toll on organizations and their employees professionally and personally.
People are discontent, they are constantly worrying about layoffs, trust in company leadership has waned, and job security with big corporations is virtually nonexistent (Eich, 2012). During these times a transformational leader like Branson would be highly valued. He believes that employees are a great asset and he inspires and guides people to succeed. His engagement and motivation brings value to employees, who in turn through that motivation and sense of purpose bring value to the organization. A real leader takes a personal interests in others’ career development by mentoring and teaching instead of ordering and demanding (Eich, 2012).
I believe Sir Richard Branson is a real leader. I conclude that Branson style of leadership is transformational which is extremely effective and a style that most of us can only dream of working for or with. I believe that Branson could incorporate another leadership style called flexible leadership to become an even more effective leader. A flexible leader has to ability to incorporate all the various leadership styles depending on the situation. In order to be an effective leader, we must be able to adapt to different situations and use different leadership styles whenever necessary.
There may be a situation when a different leadership style is more effective than the style we would traditionally use. For instance, one should use the authoritarian leadership style when short on time and needing to make quick decisions. The leader has all the critical information whereas followers are less capable. The democratic leadership style could be used when dealing with a lot of information and where the tasks involves various fields and skills sets, the leader does not have access to all the information. In this case, the leader does not have time to analyze everything and followers are capable and/or experienced.
The laissez -faire leadership style could be utilized for less critical areas/tasks when the leader has other more important priorities. This would be used when the followers are specialists in their field and are very capable, experienced and independent. The leader could use charismatic leadership when there is low morale & motivation and when creativity and passion is required to achieve the goal. These are when circumstances are not exciting, dull and seemingly meaningless. Branson would use transformational leadership when radical change is needed.
This style would be used when the future is less than certain and when the goal is to pioneer or establish new ideas/concepts. In conclusion, I feel that by incorporating different management styles when the need arises would make Sir Richard Branson a more effective leader. Sir Richard Branson is already an exemplary leader. I believe that he wouldn’t have any problem establishing and leading a successful global team to work on a major project. A global team has members from a variety of countries who are separated significantly by time, distance, culture, and language (Hellriegel & Slocum, 2011).
When developing and leading a global team, it is necessary for leadership to evolve in order to meet the challenges. The roles of a traditional leader versus a virtual leader are very different. The main difference is that the traditional leader can work closely in proximity to his or her team whereas a global virtual leader can not. There are three roles for a global or virtual leader. The first role is to operate as a team liaison that continuously scans and interprets event is the team and the environment. The second role is a guider who makes sure that all actions have a specified purpose that is in line with the team’s overall goals.
Finally, leaders must be the operational coordinator. This involves identifying or obtaining the necessary resources in order to resolve problems or accomplish difficult tasks. It also involves coming up with ways to motivate and empower employees which requires greater effort towards tasks. As a result this would minimize process losses. People could argue that these roles are not very different from traditional ones but each of these must be carried out in global virtual team settings and they must be done with limited communications (Zaccaro & Bader, 2003).
Being successful when developing and leading a global team involves unique challenges. According to one source and consistent with much of the research done on this topic, there are 5 main disadvantages to a virtual team. They are lack of physical interaction, loss of face to face synergies, lack of trust, greater concern with predictability and reliability, and lack of social interaction (Cascio & Shurygailo, 2003). Out of all of these, the most studied and written about challenge that arises in virtual settings is trust.
Trust is important to the success of any team but the issue becomes increasingly complex in a virtual setting. The personal attributes needed in order to build trust are open-mindedness, flexibility, interest in and sensitivity towards other cultures, ability to deal with complexity, resilience, optimism, energy, and honesty (Kramer, 2005). These attributes will help to create a trusting environment. In order to lead a global virtual team, a leader needs to be competent in communication. The frequency of communication and how the leader responds to questions and roblems is monumental to communicating effectively. In addition, leaders should also provide team direction that is clear and precise. This would enhance individual self regulation while allowing team members to monitor and evaluate their own performance. Clarity in global virtual teams is very difficult and this becomes significantly important. Virtual leaders must also be able to listen and observe what can’t be seen. Having team awareness is essential to developing a successful global team. This awareness should also be created within the team.
A lack of awareness in either the work that remote team members are doing, their availability, their deadlines, or how they feel about an idea or direction can lead to ineffective outcomes and a loss of group synergies (Hunsaker & Hunsaker, 2008). The final requirement for communicating effectively in a global virtual team is the leader’s ability to utilize the technology available and to educate the team on its proper use. Leadership in virtual teams is more than likely expressed through technology.
As a result, leaders and team members must be able to make sense of these tools in order to make the most use of them (Zigurs, 2003). In conclusion, a leader that has shown that they can communicate effectively in person may not be able to accomplish this in virtual communications. Additionally, a leader who is capable of establishing trust in person may have difficulty in a virtual setting. A leader should understand the various and complex difficulties virtual teams will face and should attempt and exert more effort to make sure teams are utilizing all resources to obtain their goals (Heller, 2010).
In my opinion, Sir Richard Branson possesses all of these competencies and attributes which would make him very successful in leading and developing global teams. The leadership qualities possessed and utilized by Sir Richard Branson would be extremely useful and effective in my work environment. As I found during my research, he is a very charismatic leader. This motivates individuals to exert extra effort due to intrinsic rewards that would be obtained from performing well. Immediate short term goals would be viewed as a commitment to reaching a greater vision (Hellriegel & Slocum, 2011).
I also believe as a leader, Branson takes the needs and interests of his followers into consideration over his own needs. By communicating directly with all levels of my organization and gaining mutual respect and trust, people would not be afraid to notify me of any impending issues that may affect the organization. By showing that I care about my employees and that I want them to succeed, I would motivate them to perform at their full potential. In turn, employees would genuinely care about whether the organization succeeds.
I feel that working for someone who possesses the qualities that Sir Richard Branson possesses would be a great and uplifting experience. By incorporating these qualities into my roles at work I would encourage, challenge, and motivate employees. In conclusion, I have described Sir Richard Branson’s leadership style and evaluated ways in which his leadership style would be effective and relevant in the United States today. I also gave my recommendation of using a flexible leadership style. This is a leadership style in which a leader uses different leadership styles depending on the situation they are dealing with at that time.
By quickly adapting, I feel this would make Branson a more effective leader. I also determined ways in which Branson could develop and lead a global team when working on a major project by showing certain competencies and establishing trust, the global team would be highly successful when working on major projects. Lastly, I discussed ways that I could incorporate Branson’s leadership qualities into my role at my workplace which would compel my employees to reach their full potential.