Sir Richard Branson is one of the most successful entrepreneurs the world has ever seen, he has a net worth of $5 billion and his Virgin Group now controls more than 400 companies. But it is his ability as a leader that has allowed Virgin to thrive in so many diverse industries. With this in mind, I couldn’t think of many more qualified to take leadership advice from.
Listen, Learn & Laugh
In an interview with Forbes’ Dan Schawbel, Richard Branson revealed that his top 3 principles of leadership were to listen, learn and laugh:
“1. Listening is one of the most important skills that anyone can have. That’s a very Virgin trait. Listening enables us to learn from each other, from the marketplace, and from the mistake that must be made in order to get anywhere that is original and disruptive. I learn so much from guests and employees that way.
2. Learn: Learning and leadership go together. Too much credit goes to me for what we have achieved at Virgin but the successes happen from working and learning with some of the world’s most inspiring and inspired people.
3. Laughter: My number one rule in business, and in life, is to enjoy what you do. Running a business involves long hours and hard decisions; if you don’t have the passion to keep you going, your business will more than likely fail. If you don’t enjoy what you are doing, then you shouldn’t be doing it.”
Leader Or Boss?
There is a difference between being a leader and being a boss, and according to Sir Branson there are several distinctions that separate the two.
A boss will supervise others, ensure they play by the rules and stay within company guidelines. A leader on the other hand, “while maintaining stability, must have vision, creativity and perhaps most importantly, the ability to influence others to follow and support them in the challenges of moving an organisation into uncharted and often highly risky territory.”
Good Leaders & Bad Leaders, What’s The Difference?
“Good leadership is by definition all about taking the venture forward and finding viable new avenues where the business can evolve and prosper.
Poor leadership, on the other hand, typically tends to be static, much more about protecting the status quo and, if there are any around, resting on laurels.”
One other trait of a good leader is the willingness to meet confrontations head on and not shy away to be liked by employees.
Also, a weak leader, instead of delegating by handing on the responsibility for a situation together with the authority to resolve it, will relegate in order to avoid responsibility or blame.
Hopefully you’ve now learnt a thing or two about leadership and are better equipped to become the strong leader your business needs to thrive. Maybe you can use these tips to become be the next Sir Richard Branson.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on what makes a good leader, so leave a comment below and I look forward to seeing if your ideas differ to the Founder and Chairman of the Virgin Group.