Most Economies in the world go through cycles every month ahead, stimulating the many challenges we see today. According to Bass (1985) it is also true that what made you successful as a leader in the past may not guarantee you success in the future. Therefore it is important that you strengthen your leadership style with new knowledge that will enable you lead your business successfully in this challenging global market. This paper discusses challenges that today’s leaders face in the global market as they strive ensure the success of their businesses. The paper will take a case study of a specific type of leadership style and analyze a particular leader in this category Bass (1985). The paper will then identify the challenges the leader faced and how the leader responded to those challenges. The case study will be based on Sir Richard Branson, the CEO of Virgin Airlines. He is an influential type of leader. Influential leadership refers to the ability to provoke actions in others as a leader.
Branson’s leadership style is a very unique one. According to Leaders News. (2010), Branson does not have any business headquarter and does not hold regular board meetings nor does he have an idea of how to operate a computer. With this type of traits, he had to develop the necessary skills to ensure that he remains relevant and succeed in his business. Branson is the founder of Virgin Group, one of the most recognized brand in the world, with more than 400 companies. He is also an international entrepreneur, an adventure, and an icon to recon with. He is the sixth richest citizen in the United Kingdom with an estimated wealth of us$4.6 billion. He is much respected in the business world for the last 20 years (Leaders News, 2010). Branson is one person who is not afraid of taking risks and always believe that people are the groundwork to the success of his company. He is one of the leaders exhibiting the influential type of leadership. He believes that listening and using other people’s input is most important value to him (Bass, 1985). He is an influential type of a person. Whenever he walks, he will always carrying his note book to take note of anything that might be of important to him as he interact with people.
Branson’s leadership style has its roots in his upbringing. His parents used to tell him to stand on his feet whenever he was faced with a problem. When he was only six years old, his mother pull him out of the car and tell him to find his way back home. When he was ten, his mother would put him on a bicycle and ride tree hundred miles. The lessons he learned built his character including his endurance and transformed him into a great leader, with good leadership qualities.
According to Leaders News (2010), Branson faced many challenges in his course to becoming one of the most influential leader and respected business man in the world. His greatest challenge was fear. Branson had a fear of public speaking. He was really tormented by this and he decided to face it directly. Leaders News (2010), stated that he first learned that he would have to face his fear in order to successfully become a good leader. After he was coached by the late Sir Freddie Laker to make himself a public face of their new airline. He was given the advice of imagining that he was in a living room having a conversation with someone. The approach really helped him improve in his management. Because he is a type of an influential leader, he had to get that courage do away with the fear of public speaking.
Branson’s leadership style depends on the need to treat other people with respect with an aim of benefiting from them. That is why he had to learn how to overcome the challenge of public speaking. Branson’s philosophy was to put the employers first, the customers second and the investors third and in the end of it all, everyone else will be satisfied. The most important thing to him was how to relate to other people including his employees.
According to Dearlove (2007), Branson’s biggest challenge came 1997 when he acquired a dying railway company from the British Rail and rebranded the railway immediately with Virgin Trains. The strategy was risky since it could destroy the image of the company if it failed again. People used to sit broken trains with virgin name on them. Branson’s actions were almost ruining the reputation of the company. Branson was not that much worried. He used his leadership style to convince the public. Branson’s takeover involved a lot of public relations. At the time of construction, Virgin held many press conferences in an attempt to show off the new trains off to the public. Branson’s approach really worked because it was not just a mere promise to the public to improve the train network but to actually perform the act. This improved the public’s confidence in Virgin to the extent that when the government took away their franchise, there was an absolute outcry of the public all over Britain (Dearlove, 2007). Branson’s tactics really worked. According to Dearlove (2007), he influenced people to have confidence in Virgin. Another challenge was in 2006 when virgin took over NTL: Telewest, one of the biggest telephone, cable, and internet providers in United Kingdom. Branson decided to wait for some time before rebranding the company with virgin, since the company really failed to deliver in one of the virgin brand’s important pillar; that of customer service. Branson decide not to rebrand it with virgin until they fixed the behind-the-scenes issues (Dearlove, 2007).
In summary, Branson’s style of leadership really helped him overcome the challenges he faced at Virgin. He used the challenges as the motivation finding the solution to the problems. He motivated by his philosophy of listening to any and all ideas and offering a feedback. His belief that his employees come first and their ideas are listened to and taken into consideration motivated employees, to the extent that they wouldn’t wish to leave virgin. The company’s clients were also satisfied with the services they received from the company just because Branson influenced them a lot.
Leaders News. (2010). INFLUENCIAL LEADERSHIP: Influential Leaders. Retrieved from http://influentialleadership.com/sir-richard-branson/
Bass, B.M. (1985) the leadership and performance beyond expectations, p43, New York, Free Press.
Dearlove, D. (2007) Business in the Richard Branson Way, p163, Capstone, Chichester, UK