Overview – Virgin Group, Ltd.
The Virgin Group, Ltd. is a British based venture capital organization founded by Richard Branson, incorporated in 1989. The focus of their business group is travel, entertainment, and lifestyle, and while actually incorporating as a venture capital group in the late 1980s, they had a number of activities in the 1970s. To date, Virgin has created more than 300 companies globally, employing over 50,000 people in 30 countries. In 2009, global revenues exceeded $18 billion US with a portfolio that continues to grow. The company believes in making a difference, and is quite particular about the manner in which they invest, or assist in marketing new ventures. Several things appear to ensure that anything that has a Virgin brand is successful: 1) the brand, 2) Richard Branson’s reputation; 3) empowering of talent; and 4) the management style engendered by Branson which flows down to almost every aspect of the organization. The company prides itself on sound, sustainable philosophies and posits the notion that there are six identifiers that characterize the company: • Lower the carbon footprint of all Virgin represented projects • The Gaia concept – one living world – use the planet’s resources responsibly • Equality of all humans, regardless of ethnicity and location • Inspiration and continual change – create desire and change agents • Wellness – offer products and services that contribute to physical and emotional well-being • Voice – use a voice together to make the planet a better place, and take this philosophy to home, in leisure time, or when dealing with any organization (People and Planet, 2012). Richard Branson Leadership Style
Much of the success of the Virgin group can be attributed to Richard Branson’s charismatic and innovative leadership style. The essential is that he empowers people to innovate and grow – a philosophical viewpoint that sets the tone for the management team in all Virgin companies. The organizational culture of the Virgin group is, however quite complex. The group is the parent company of hundreds of separately managed organizations that are often completely unrelated, although the brand is similar. The true common denominator for the company is the alignment towards the Virgin brand – serving as a guideline for the image that each unique organization is expected to represent in both quality and innovation. By creating a truly exceptional global brand, the organization is also able to create an unprecedented amount of loyalty within it complex customer base. Most scholars, in fact, see that the diversity of types of businesses within the group help the company in a number of different industries, and the synergy that is developed is instrumental in also driving those brands. Regardless of the type of industry, managers take the clue from Branson to use innovation to inspire creativity and the edge necessary for employees to positively contribute to the efficacy of the company – in particular by looking 2-3 years (or more) beyond the present (Hellriegel & Slocum, 2007). Branson has managed, however, to make a fairly distinct difference between leadership and management within the company. Transformational leadership comes from the top managers and executives within the organization due to Branson setting numerous strategic goals for the company to achieve (expansion into international markets, expansion into technology, increased customer loyalty, more joint ventures with other organizations, and a continued drive towards responsible and global sustainability). The beauty of these goals is that they are not just managerial goals, but are shared with every member of the organization with the assumption that everyone involved will then see the future as a challenging mission in which employees can use their skills that will best compliment the particular organizational model of their particular unit. The...