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A Leadership Analysis of Richard Branson

A Leadership Analysis of Richard Branson

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An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Lisa Nolan. Originally submitted for Business and Management at None, with lecturer Richard Cotter in the category of Business & Economics
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Lisa Nolan. Originally submitted for Business and Management at None, with lecturer Richard Cotter in the category of Business & Economics

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 30, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Abstract:My submission discusses the ways in which Richard Branson is seen as a leader. Itshows which leadership theories that are used by him, in order to lead those thatfollow him, either through work or general enthusiasm for his leadership style, andhow effectively those theories are applied.This submission covers details of Richard Branson’s early life and the beginning of his leadership. It then goes on to explain how his leadership style emerged as he began to run the Virgin Group. I then explained how Richard Branson is seen by the public, and how he has followers in the public that don’t work for him. After this, Iconsider which technical leadership theories are used by Richard Branson. I reviewhow successful Richard Branson has been as a leader, by looking at how his followersrespect him and follow in his footsteps. To conclude, I review Richard Branson frommy own perspective.
IntroductionBefore a leader can be analysed, one must define what leadership is. This ishard to do. It’s an intrinsic trait which is hard to define. Jackson and Parry (2008: 5)say that ‘leadership is like beauty – it is difficult to describe, but we certainly know itwhen we see it.' However, the general consensus is that leadership is influencing people in order to attain goals (Daft, 2008: 590).The leader that will be analysed in this essay is Richard Branson, who runsand owns the Virgin Group. He has demonstrated his leadership skills from the earlyage of just seventeen, when he set up a student magazine, that was aptly named,
. Even earlier than this, he showed entrepreneurial skills, growing Christmastrees and selling budgies, although these plans failed (Grint, 2000: 49).Richard Branson was born, the first of three children, in July 1950 to EdwardBranson, a barrister, and Eva Huntley-Flindt, an air hostess (Grint, 2000: 48). It wasthrough hard work and perseverance that helped Richard Branson become one of theUK’s most recognisable leaders and a renowned business leader worldwide.The fact that Branson had to work hard to get to the top of his game is relevantto him as a leader. His business ventures have not always gone to plan, as shownabove through his selling of Christmas trees and budgies, nor did he inherit a familyfirm.His main reason for setting up
was to make money. While themagazine never made any money, he managed to get businesses to part with £6,000for advertising space. Even though the magazine failed in terms of profits, Bransonled his team by getting them to work for no payment, simply by incorporating fun intothis business venture (Grint, 2000: 50). This means that at the age of just eighteen,Branson was demonstrating leadership skills typical of someone far beyond his years.
The Emergence of Branson’s Leadership StyleRichard Branson is the CEO of the Virgin Group, which consists of manycompanies, all bearing the infamous Virgin logo. Virgin began as a simple mail order company selling records, eventually setting up shops and a recording studio.However, at this stage he was heavily in debt, and in order to pay it off, he expandedthe business quickly. After this, he launched Virgin Rags, a clothing company withhis then wife, Kirsten Tomassi. From there, the business went from strength tostrength, obtaining a record deal with the Sex Pistols and launching Virgin AtlanticAirlines. (Grint, 2000: 50-51).Because Richard Branson leads the Virgin Group, rather than just onecompany within the group, it is harder to define what type of organisation the VirginGroup is. Certainly, it is a corporate one. But Virgin is more than that. Upon startingVirgin Atlantic Airlines, Branson himself claimed ‘we’re still in the entertainmentindustry – at 25,000 feet’ (Grint, 2000: 51). If we assume that Branson considershimself still to be in the entertainment industry, then, he must offer all his productsand services with entertainment in mind. Following on from this, one must consider how Branson leads an entertainment corporation when there are good ranging from books to cola and services such as satellite television and space tourism.Being the leader of a huge organisation in the entertainment has greatlyaffected Branson’s leadership style. His style of working for fun that is work-drivenrather than fun for fun’s sake has been leaked through the company, so that everyone,ranging from senior managers to retail staff and air hostesses work with this philosophy in mind (Grint, 2000: 50).

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