THE VIRGIN GROUP IN 2012
LEADERSHIP AND STRATEGIC CHANGE
WALTER FEDERICO MINETTI Universidad de Ciencias Sociales y Empresariales December 2013
1. What common resources and capabilities link the separate Virgin companies? In fact, this group of companies was unusual in terms of the range of products it encompassed. But there is certainly a secret in the success of this group. All companies in Virgin Group believe in making the difference. Their most respected core concentrates in quality, innovation, fun and sense of competitive challenge, empowering employees to improve customer’s experience through innovation. All markets in which Virgin operates are markets where customers aren’t feeling a comfortable service or have been under-served by competitors, typically signed by confusion or over competition. And Virgin objective in these markets is to be the consumer champion, to break into them and shake them up. As we stated before, Branson created an entrepreneurial culture that is carried through all the Virgin group companies: Being simple, honest and transparent, not necessarily the cheapest on the market; Quick communication;
Loyalty, fun and care for workers, in order to provide them a nice place to work; High attention to details, delivering on promises;
Being professional but not corporate;
Modern and stylish designs and ideas;
Proclaiming pop-culture innocence, possessing novelty and shock-value; We can without doubt say then, that the brand Virgin has been the group’s most relevant asset, always under the leadership of Branson. But not only values and culture are the common shared characteristics by Virgin group companies. We can foreground also a same organizational structure idea. About financials, we can say that each one of the companies is financed by internal equity. Each company within the group is financed individually and separately. Same with management structure: each one of the companies are individually managed and operated, avoiding centralization of decisions process. The idea is to give them control and freedom, allowing them to enjoy the sense of achievement. Strategic decision making are done by Richard Branson and each CEO’s of the companies. We can conclude that the Virgin group culture reflects basically the aptitudes and personality of Branson himself: entrepreneurial soul, anti-corporation and anti-bureaucracy spirit and risk taker.
2. Analyze Richard Branson´s leadership style. What theory/theories would apply? What are the advantages and what are the disadvantages? Trying to characterize him in Blacke & Mounton´s managerial grid, I would positionate his leadership style as a Country Club leader. He is attentative to staff needs and always developed successful relationships. However is not focused directly on achieving results, or delegate these responsibilities on other collaborators. I also consider Richard Branson has a Delegative Leadership Style. He always attempted to involve other talented people in the process of decision, including subordinates peers and stakeholders. It is an absolutely people-oriented style. His approach to management always reflected his life style, values and personality. It was based upon giving absolute autonomy and incentives to talented managers that he trusted. Once one Virging new division was already running, it was delegated to a talented manager and a financial controller. Basically by encouraging employee feedback and ideas, management often developed a much better understanding of their staff, workplace conditions and enjoyed some fresh new ideas and...
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