Leadership in Virgin

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Leadership in Virgin

Established by Sir Richard Branson 22 years ago, Virgin Atlantic has become Britians second largest airline. It operates 37 aircraft, employs 9000 staff and flies more than 4.5 million passangers a year to some of the worlds major cities.

After the slump in air travel following 9/11 Virgin Atlantic went through a period of rapid growth. Virgin Atlantic introduced a leadership development program that was led by business objectives rather than HR process and fitted into the organizations long term goal of increasing profits by 7%. The leadership team started by identifying the traits that it belivied made Virgin successful and followed this with a 360 degree appraisal of the management teams strengths and weakness.

In May 2006 Virgin sent all of its 120 managers to personal development workshops as part of a leadership initative at the cost estimated between £4000 - £5000 per head. Virgin felt that external recruitment moreover had diluted the “vibe” of the workplace and wished to create strong leadership teams with-in the company.

Virgin Business Manifesto:

“To grow a profitable airline which people love to fly and where people love to work”

Six leadership principles important to Virgin:

i. Focus agressivly on profit

ii. Be bold and adventurous

iii. Deliver the basics brilliantly

iv. Add magic touches

v. Inspire and engage your people

vi. Ensure great people can do great work

“Staff first then customers and shareholders” Richard Branson

Branson as a Leader

Bransons style of leadership leans heavily on delegation. He says he would be unable to develop his business without the help of his managers, lawyers and friends. This emphasizes such leadership qualities as flexiability, ability to delegate and accept own weaknesses.

Branson as a Transformational Leader

Key points of such a leader:

i. Find the right people

ii. Inspiring them

iii. Drawing out the best things

iv. Love learning

v. Inquisitive mind

vi. Life is a one learning process

Main characteristics:

i. Ability to connect with people

ii. Innovative approach to the business

iii. Likes challanges and will always disengage difficulties

“Business has to give people enriching rewarding lives, or it is simply not worth doing” Richard Branson


• Listen to people, encourage and feedback

• Integrate personal into other parts of the organisation

Core beliefs and values:

• Helping people achieve things that they did not know they were capable of

• Being a catalyst to the success of others

• Constantly learning

Values and beliefs:

• Says he never listens to critics

• He is a sponge for new ideas

• Inspire people to think like entranpreneurs

• You and everyone around you will makes mistakes

Bransons skills:

• Public relations genius, he understands what the media want and he gives it to them

• He is likeable and knows when to disappear

Branson places enormous value on time management. 1/3 of his time on trouble shooting, another 1/3 on new projects both chartiable and business and the final 1/3 on promoting and talking about the business.

“Being someone who cares about people is important, you cant be a good leader unless you generally like the people. That is how to bring out the best in them” Richard Branson

People don’t need to be told where they have slipped up or made a mess of something “they will sort it out themselves”

Key is to listen to any and all ideas and offer feedback. Employees often leave organisations because their ideas fall on deaf ears. Interaction between employees and managers is fundamental.

Transformation Leadership as seen in Virgin

Transformation leadership enhances the motivation, morale and performance of employees through a variety of mechanisms. These include connecting to the employees sense of...
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