The Importance of Leadership
It is the belief of many that leadership is the vehicle or direction to both positive and negative change. In fact, leadership often determines the success and/or failure of any organization, whether it be in business, education, religion, government organizations, and society in general. Clear evidence of this is seen in the recent-American Airlines’ woes, the closing of troubled schools across the nation, the public-scandal surrounding Enron Corporation, the positive impact of the Christian community by renowned-evangelist Billy Graham, the devastating-financial crisis of 2008, the re-election of President Barack Obama, and others. With this perspective firmly in mind, and in context of the case study surrounding Sir Richard Branson and his leadership style, this paper seeks to discuss the leadership models addressed in chapters 10 and 11. It will also propose a different leadership style that would enhance Branson’s leadership prowess. Further, it will talk about a few strategies that Branson can employ to develop and lead a global team working on a major project. Lastly, it will discuss some of Branson’s leadership qualities and their personal and contemporary applications. Branson’s Leadership Style Illustrated in Chapters 10 and 11 Models Based on the substantial amount of evidence presented in the text, Branson has proved himself to be an effective leader because of his vision, operating philosophy, charisma or appealing influence, and financial success. Much of Mr. Branson’s influence and success has been attributed to his direct-business involvement. Therefore, as illustrated in chapters 10 and 11, Sir Richard Branson’s leadership style is participative. To give emphasis on such revelation, Richard Branson is the Chairman of Virgin Group Limited (Ltd). He operates multinational entities that include air travel, financial services, and retail stores. Also, scores of people work for him. But regardless of the scope of Mr. Branson’s responsibility and work demands; he allocates a great deal of time time to be personally involved with the day-to-day operations of the organization. Moreover, he actively listens to the concerns of his staff and customers in order to generate feedback and capture new ideas. To add to this, Branson’s personal involvement and participating leadership style has also reflected in his business approach and priority. For example, employees and customers are an integral part of his business culture. For this reason, employees are ranked first, customers second, and shareholders last (p. 344). The rationale behind such approach is this—if employees are recognized and feel appreciated, the level of customer satisfaction becomes high, and therefore return on investment (RO1) is realized or positive. In addition to Branson’s personal involvement and participating leadership style, he surrounds himself with a diverse group of people so as to reflect the company’s core beliefs, values, and desired outcomes. To add credence to this idea, in his book entitled, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, (Maxwell, 1998, p. 110) remarked: “Every leader’s potential is determined by people closer to him.” In other words, leaders can make a significant difference when they associate themselves with competent people, as in the case of Richard Branson. More emphasis on this point will be discussed later on. Another leadership style that reflects Richard Branson is transformational leadership. According to the text, transformational leadership “involves anticipating future trends, inspiring 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 rewarded learners” (Hellriegel & Slocum Jr, 2011, p. 329). The above perspective certainly captures and encapsulates Branson’s leadership style—because he persuades many to buy into his inspiring messages....
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