BUS 520 – Leadership and Organizational Behavior
Read the Sir Richard Branson, Chairman, Virgin Group, Ltd. case study located in Chapter 11 Describe Branson’s leadership style in terms of the leadership models addressed in Chapters 10 and 11. Sir Richard Branson exercises an unconventional Leadership style. His style incorporates a variety of the components of the leadership models presented by Hellriegel and Slocum throughout Chapters 10 and 11 of the text. Branson’s position as founder and chairman of Virgin Group gives him legitimate power described by Hellriegel, 2011 as “an individual’s ability to influence others’ behaviors because of the person’s formal position in the organization.” In his position as founder and chairman, Branson has exercised his legitimate power to ignore advice and suggestions of top management. In these instances, employees have to accept his decisions, sometimes to the detriment of the company as was the case when the company suffered several setbacks due to Sir Branson’s actions or lack thereof. Branson attributes his success as a leader to several factors such as treating people humanely, maintaining company standards and frequent visits, chats and communications with employees and customers. Branson contends, “the entrepreneur will only succeed if he/she has good people around them and they listen to their advice” Hellriegel (2011) He goes on to express how much he depends on and trusts his colleagues for guidance in business decisions and provides an example that illustrates how his failure to follow the advice of his colleagues cost the company a considerable amount of money.
In terms of Leadership Models, the consult individually and consult team styles most accurately describes Sir Branson’s leadership approach. The styles are components of the Vroom-Jago Leadership Model developed by Victor Vroom and Arthur Jago. Hellriegel (2011) defines the Consult leadership styles as follows: Consult individually style, in which the leader presents the problem to team members individually, getting their ideas and suggestions and then makes the decision without bringing them together as a group. Consult team style- the leader presents the problem to team members in a meeting, gets their suggestions, and makes the decision.
Both the consult individually and consult team styles designate the leader the ultimate decision maker, decisions may or may not reflect team or individual influence. Sir Branson welcomes communications via letter, e-mail and when he visits Virgin businesses on the road. He either personally addresses or assigns action to each concern, request or communication. The practice of maintaining a direct line for communications to any of about 50,000 employees is an impressive commitment. However, this practice is indicative of a consult individual style of leadership. Sir Branson may gather information from an individual communication and decide to move forward with action, without the influence or input of management team members, human resources staff etc. Additionally, “In a recent visionary commitment, Branson pledged as much as $3 billion during the next 10 years (through 2017) to tackle global warming.” Hellriegel, (2011) While Sir Branson pledged personal profits in lieu of his visionary commitment, there was no mention in the case study of Mr. Branson’s efforts to involve the Virgin Group in the creation of or participation in new technologies associated with anti-global warming efforts. In this case he may have shared his vision with the management team however; there is no information in the text that indicates a discussion amongst colleagues regarding the Virgin Group activities and vision regarding global warming. Evaluate the likely effectiveness of the Consult style in the U.S. today Who is blamed for the distress or failure of a major organization? While...