Attributes and behaviors of successful leaders-Richard Branson

Behaviours of a Successful Leader – Richard Branson


Demonstrating leadership has been found to be invaluable to the growth of any organization. This is according to Hao and Yazdanifard (2015), who have stressed that effective leadership is one of the most profound components of the overall business model of sustainability in light of stiff competition as well as rapid economic development. Sethuraman and Suresh (2014) have articulated that leaders are responsible for taking control of the operation of an organization through setting goals and objectives.  Even so, effective leaders have been seen to influence and motivate their employees through strengthening a positive organizational culture.  Surfeits of interpretivism schools of thoughts have tried to analyse various leaders in the global arena. This has been primarily for the aim of understanding their leadership styles in driving successful business enterprises.  On this understanding, this essay seeks to vividly explore Richard Branson of Virgin Group and his leadership style.

Key behaviours of Richard Branson

Richard Branson is considered as one of the successful and exemplary leaders who depict transformational leadership. As such, there are various behaviours that are associated with his leadership style. In reference to Bass model, transformational leadership is a style of leadership in which leaders seek to broaden as well as elevate the interests of the workforce by generating awareness of the purpose as well as the mission of the team (Antonakis & House 2013).  This has been echoed by Odumeru and Ogbonna (2013) that transformational leadership emphasizes on the needs of others as opposed to the needs of the leader.  In light of this, one element of transformational leadership is idealized influence or charismatic, which is the ability of a leader to serves as a role model for the followers. Branson does this by openly communicating with his employees, delegating, ensuring autonomy in the work,  and ensuring that objectives have been aligned with the organizational goals are achieved (Branson 2006). Besides, he also encourages free interaction among the employees and teamwork.  In the airline business, Branson has been credited as a charismatic leader because of free interaction with the employees, which also explain his trait of idealized influence.  This is consistent with Antonakis and House (2013) argument that idealized leaders share risks with the employees and are usually trustworthy with a high sense of moral standard. These aspects have made Branson a role model to the employees of Virgin Group.  Besides, he depicts himself as a role model in his persistence and determination to accomplish goals.

According to the transformational leadership theory, inspiration motivation is a key component of this kind of leadership. This means transformational leaders usually have a clear vision and ability to articulate to their followers. Branson is a key leader who depicts this behaviour.  As such, Branson is known for his ability to influence and build a common idea among his subordinates.  Besides, Branson usually depicts the ability to communicate and inspire the vision of Virgin Group and display element of optimism, enthusiasm, and commitment of the goal.  This is consistent with Wang and Rode (2010) argument that transformational leaders inspire confidence and a sense of purpose to the employees and are able to  communicate a clear vision for the future.  In this sense, Branson was able to develop a vision for Virgin Group and by creating an exciting future he was able to convert potential followers who achieve been able to create a consistent brand (Niphadkar 2017). He does this through his leadership philosophy of having the right people who believe in the brand identity.  As such, he chooses people who believe in the organizational value and who have the ability to achieve the organizational vision that has been set (Branson 2009). Kark and Shamir (2013) explains that transformational leaders contributes to the self-efficacy of their followers, which is a person conviction about own abilities to mobilizes resources critical to the successful execution of a particular task. This is central to the Bass model of transformational leadership, which involves elevating and broadening the followers’ contribution (Odumeru & Ogbonna 2013). Branson has been credited with the ability to raise his employees’ sense of self-efficacy by inspiring them to be creative, setting lofty expectations and hosting an ostentatious celebration with the successful team across the world (Branson 2012). This approach has made Virgin Group to be one of the most known and beloved brand. As such, Richard Branson embraces social recognition in which the employees are able to establish their self belief and self-esteem on their belonging to the organization.  In addition, the employees are encouraged to associate with the organizational aims by connecting self belief to the mission statement of the group.  As such he tries to bring best out of his employees by inspiring them.  Besides, he promotes talent from within the Virgin group. For instance, when after a company reaches a certain size, he promotes the assistant manager and let them take charge of the company (Branson 2012). This encourages the employees to work hard in the hope they will be given an opportunity.  Besides, he let the employees take credit and make them feel worth.  However, when the things go wrong, he takes responsibility and stand of the loss.

According to the transformational leadership model, transformational leaders value creativity as well as autonomous among the followers. As such, transformational leaders are associated with intellectual stimulation.  Branson can be credited for this behaviour in the sense that there is a low task structure meaning that he gives his employees freedom and encourage them to be creative. Besides, Virgin group is non-hierarchical and there is o established procedure on how thing should be done. In fact, Branson (2012) explains that Virgin Group employees are allowed to work with minimal supervision.  Besides, transformative leaders support their employees by involving them in decision-making process as well as stimulating their efforts to be creative. This is demonstrated by the fact that Branson welcomes new ideas and initiative from his employees and encourages them to explore new ways of approaching challenges. Wang and Howell (2010) opine that it involves a leader and employees questioning of assumption, reframing the problems and consequently using novel techniques to approach the issue.  As such, Richard Branson who is considered as a charismatic leader has been able to build Virgin Group using innovative as well as unconventional approaches to business. Richard Branson explains that it is important to give people freedom so they can be creative and come up with their own ideas. This depicts his behaviour of intellectual stimulation.

The other key behaviour shown by Richard Branson is an individualized consideration. Wang and Howell (2010) transformational leadership theory explains that individualized consideration is the ability of the leader to understand as well as appreciate different viewpoints and needs of the employees while striving to develop the employees’ potential. In the case of Branson, he responds to employees emails personally, making them feel important (Vries & Treacy  2009).

Implications of the leader’s style

The transformational leadership of Richard Branson has a range of implications. First, it has been able to influence key attitude as well as assumptions of the Virgin Group employees thereby creating a common mentality to attain the overall organizational objectives and Goal.  Besides, passion, which is a key feature of transformational leadership, enables the leaders to their followers to optimize performance. Through his leadership, Branson seeks to influence his employees through charismatic and idealized influence in which he seeks to emphasize the needs of others.  By clearly articulating the organizational vision he is able to ensure everything is committed to achieving the organizational goals. This has been affirmed by Orabi (2016) that transformational leadership influences the employees’ commitment and behaviour, which leads to improvement in the organizational performance. Choudhary et al. (2013) substantiate this assertion that transformational leadership help organization to change and innovative, which prompt growth as well as expansion depicting organizational performance.  This is also echoed by Orabi (2016) that transformational leadership creates an environment where employees feel energized and motivated. As previously stated, Branson through his leadership promotes the assistant manager to take charge of a company after it reaches a certain size.  Therefore, the idealized influence of Branson has had an implication on the performance of Virgin Group as it influences commitment and satisfaction that facilitate engagement at the work.

The other implication of Branson leadership is increased job satisfaction by the employees. A study by Wong & Laschinger (2013) indicates a positive correlation between followers’ job satisfaction and transformational leadership.   As such, Branson through intellectual stimulation helps the employees to achieve their full potential by encouraging them to innovative new ways of approaching the problem and be creative.  Besides, he empowers employees to make changes in order to realize their full potential, which in turn result in job satisfaction and employees retention.  In addition, Branson encourages his employees to communicate freely and speak their thoughts on the organization’s vision.  Branson understands that employees are indispensable resources for achieving the organizational goal. As such, Cummings et al. (2010) espouse that leadership that is only concerned about the output of the employees and do not take into consideration the feeling of the workers do not achieve best efforts from them. In light of this, Branson through individualized consideration ensures he understands employees and takes their concern into consideration by replying to their emails personally.  Branson’s effective supervisory, interaction and supervision enhance employees’ job satisfaction.

 Thirdly, transformational leaders create as well as manage change effectively.  Branson can be credited for the effective evolution of his brand by effectively managing change.  Wong & Laschinger (2013) contemplate that in case of new initiatives; transformational leaders are best suited to bring on board the vision to the other employees.  This is given that they are able to sell the improvements, changes or expansion to the followers because they already believe in the change and the process. Additionally, they make the change themselves and encourage the others to make it as well. This is the case with Branson who encourages the employees to better themselves by viewing problems differently (Branson 2014).   The implication is that this leadership has enabled Branson to come up with group companies that make up Virgin Group and he has effectively brought the employees on the board to believe in the vision of the Virgin Group.

Despite the above pro, this kind of leadership has cons. Despite the fact that transformational leadership seeks to empower and bring about the growth of the followers, Wang and Howell (2010) assert that followers may depend on the leaders. Impliedly, the employees’ motivation may solely depend on the leaders’ feedback and motivation.   However, this may not apply to Branson leadership because he provides autonomous to his employees and also independence in their task. Besides, he encourages new ideas from employees, which means they do not depend on him for motivation.

Recommendations and Conclusion

One of the recommendations of effective transformational leadership is to ensure strategic planning so as to ensure everyone gets on board toward achieving the organizational goal.  However, a leader ought to be a strong communicator who can articulate an organizational vision and be trusted by the followers so they can be willing to follow him or her.  Given that transformational leadership is about motivating the followers it is recommended to individualize consideration so as to understand the needs of every follower.  Therefore, a transformational leader ought to ensure his leadership accommodates skills and different people in the organization. This will, in turn, create a safe place for creativity and voice ideas.  As such a manager should avoid command-and-control style as explained by Wang and Howell (2010) because despite getting accomplished within a short-term great success cannot be maintained. Therefore, a transformational leader ought to leader his or her team but ensuring they solve the problems on their own.

To sum up, the above analysis has examined the leadership behaviours of Richard Branson who is the leader of the Virgin Group. The essay has espoused on transformational leadership traits of Richard and explained the effectiveness of the leadership. Among the key behaviour include charismatic or idealized influence, intellectual stimulation, individualized consideration and inspiration motivation. The effectiveness of Branson leadership includes increased employee satisfaction and engagement, improved organizational performance and the ability to facilitate change. However, one of the cons of this leadership is that employees may depend on the leader’s motivation and feedback hence it is recommended to ensure the autonomy of the followers.


Antonakis, J., & House, R. J. (2013) The full-range leadership theory: The way forward. In Transformational and Charismatic Leadership: The Road Ahead 10th Anniversary Edition (pp. 3-33). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Branson, R. (2014) The virgin way: Everything I know about leadership. Penguin.

Branson, R. (2006) Screw It, Let’s Do It: Lessons in Life, Virgin Books, London.

Branson, R. (2012) Like a Virgin: Secrets They Won’t Teach You at Business School, Portfolio Trade, New York.

Branson, R. (2009). Losing My Virginity: The Autobiography, Virgin Books, London.

Choudhary, A. I., Akhtar, S. A., & Zaheer, A. (2013) Impact of transformational and servant leadership on organizational performance: A comparative analysis. Journal of business ethics116(2), 433-440.

Cummings, G. G., MacGregor, T., Davey, M., Lee, H., Wong, C. A., Lo, E., … & Stafford, E. (2010) Leadership styles and outcome patterns for the nursing workforce and work environment: a systematic review. International journal of nursing studies47(3), 363-385.

Hao, M. J., & Yazdanifard, R. (2015) How Effective Leadership can Facilitate Change in Organizations through Improvement and Innovation. Global Journal of Management And Business Research.

Kark, R., & Shamir, B. (2013).The dual effect of transformational leadership: Priming relational and collective selves and further effects on followers. In Transformational and Charismatic Leadership: The Road Ahead 10th Anniversary Edition (pp. 77-101). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Niphadkar, C. (2017) The new age transformational leader: Richard Branson. International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research8(6), 542-547.

Odumeru, J. A., & Ogbonna, I. G. (2013) Transformational vs. transactional leadership theories: Evidence in literature. International Review of Management and Business Research2(2), 355.

Orabi, T. G. A. (2016) The impact of transformational leadership style on organizational performance: Evidence from Jordan. International Journal of Human Resource Studies6(2), 89-102.

Sethuraman, K., & Suresh, J. (2014) Effective leadership styles. International Business Research7(9), 165.

Vries, M., & Treacy, E. (2009) The new global leaders: Richard Branson, Percy Barnevik, and David Simon. San Francisco, Calif.: Jossey-Bass.

Wang, P., & Rode, J. C. (2010) Transformational leadership and follower creativity: The moderating effects of identification with leader and organizational climate. Human relations63(8), 1105-1128.

Wang, X. H. F., & Howell, J. M. (2010) Exploring the dual-level effects of transformational leadership on followers. Journal of applied psychology95(6), 1134.

Wong, C. A., & Laschinger, H. K. (2013) Authentic leadership, performance, and job satisfaction: the mediating role of empowerment. Journal of advanced nursing69(4), 947-959.

You need a customised paper? Please engage customer support on the live chat of this webpage, or send email to 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *