Instructions: Below is your assignment for this subject. Please read the brief and instructions thoroughly.
- Write a report evaluating the leadership of a 21st century leader of an (business, government or not-for-profit) organisation.
For this assignment you can select a leader from a large or a small organisation. You can select a leader from your own organisation or one that you are familiar with. It could be a CEO of an international organisation whom you have read about in the newspapers/biographies, or a family member who runs a small business with a few staff members. The choice of leader and organisation is yours.
Using relevant theories and models, critically evaluate and analyse the leadership of the leader you have selected. If you were in the position of the leader, what could you do to be a better leader and make a stronger impact on the followers and on the situation?
In your report you must cover the following:
clear description of the leader, the organisation/industry, and
- An evaluation of the leader by referring to concepts and theories covered in the subject (e.g. style, behaviour, traits, attitudes, power) and by referring to relevant examples and mini-cases in the textbook (where appropriate).
- A discussion of how you would lead differently if you were put in the same situation(s) as the leader and how you could make a stronger impact on the followers and on the situation(s).
It is important to demonstrate your knowledge about leadership and to clearly reference your sources. Read about leadership in journal articles (using AIB Online Library), books (including the textbook), and business literature, etc. Note the sources and use them throughout the report.
Remember that pure description and paraphrasing is not sufficient. A good report will clearly take an analytical approach and demonstrate application of leadership concepts/theories.
In order to do well you need to structure your discussion well, use good references, and clearly link recommendations to description and analysis presented earlier in the report.
Current Status: Not Submitted
Subject: Leadership [702LEAD]
Subject Dates: 24-06-2016 to 21-07-2016 [AIB-DL]
- With online submission of your assignment, this means that you no longer need to include a cover sheet. However, all assignments (including Final Projects) must still include a title page, as outlined with the Style and Assignment guides including:
Important Assignment Instructions
- The required word length for this assignment is 2500 words (plus or minus 10%).
- In terms of structure, presentation and style you are normally required to use:
– AIB standard report format; and
– AIB preferred Microsoft Word settings; and
– Harvard style referencing (which includes in-text citations plus a reference list).
These requirements are detailed in the AIB Style Guide.
- Reference lists for AIB assignments / projects normally contain the following number of relevant references from different sources: 6-12 (for MBA assignments).
- All references must be from credible sources such as books, industry related journals, magazines, company documents and recent academic articles.
- In terms of structure, presentation and style you are normally required to use:
Richard Branson is one of the richest billionaires in the world who has risen to his current position of influence due to his entrepreneurial skills. He was born in the year 1959 on July 18th in Surrey England to Edward Branson who was a barrister. His mother was working as a flight attendant at the time of his birth. Branson is known to have had a challenging childhood having battled with dyslexia at a very young age which made his life as a student more difficult than it should have been. Educational institutions gave him a hard time and as a result he moved from one school to the next until he dropped out completely at the age of sixteen. His first venture after dropping out was to begin a magazine based on the youth culture which was called students. He distributed his first publication for free and recovered the cost through advertising (Feloni, 2016). He then proceeded to open a record company called virgin which was to help him fund his magazine. The company steadily developed until Richard was able to expand his business venture. The profits he made from the company allowed him to begin a record shop in London which made a sizable amount of profits enabling him to begin his Virgin Empire which has stormed Europe and the rest of the world.
Richard Branson has been able to build and empire from the ground up without having the backing of any academic qualification. His success is largely attributed to his way of thinking which is far from the norm. He is an entrepreneur as well as a leader of the new millennium who has offered a new approach towards leadership and management in the corporate world. Throughout his history of operating different businesses, Richard has been a well-known and respected employer who has created many jobs for many young people around the world. He is famous for his approach of breaking rules in leadership and encouraging people to become innovative thinkers who can add value to themselves in their own ways. Richard Branson has always taken an active in selecting candidates who have leadership skills based on the recognition of the importance of having the right people who head the organization (Giuliani and Kurson, 2002). The leaders of his organization are selected and charged with the responsibility of motivating the workforce and inspiring the people and not just simply monitoring productivity and organizing. Therefore Richard Branson selects people who have the ability to reason differently since according to him leadership does not have a certain formula. The ability to reason differently is what sets people apart and ensures that people are productive when using the style that they are most comfortable with and which optimizes the available talent. Richard also believes that is very important for leaders to have an eye for the different talents of people which ensures that they are able to receive the best out of their employees. Thus he is fond of recruiting people who have experience, necessary skills, drive and who are a good cultural fit for the organization. The other skills that Branson is usually on the look-out for are hands on approach to work, a decisive mind, willingness to learn and listen, ability to delegate and passion for work (Hausman and Hausman, 2013).
Apart from forming a strong leadership system that is able to run the company and manage its activities as well as employees, Richard Branson has some interesting and unique traits that have helped him climb the ladder of success and maintain the steady growth of his empire. First he does not operate by the rules; he does not fit into the stereotypes and styles of management that are set to be followed by most chief executive officers. He is more collaborative and democratic and does not believe in being rigidly fixated on tradition. He makes different paths where there is need and adjusts what needs to be done as the team proceeds. His life has been coupled with many changes that have changed the dynamics of his approach which is the reason why he has a flexible approach to business. Secondly, he is open minded always looking out for innovative and new ideas to grow his business and make it stronger, bigger and better. It allows for them to be open to ideas from the team members and adapt to changes that are constantly present. Thirdly, he is a risk taker given the way he started his business after dropping out of school and ventured into things that were quite unfamiliar yet succeeded every step of the way. He does not play it safe but goes out into the deep waters to experiment on areas that are unknown and finds a way of making them work. Richard understands the importance and the success that can come with moving away from one’s comfort zone and choosing to take a risk (Hoover and Hollander, 1998). Apart from taking the risks he also makes calculated steps; he examines the cons and pros before agreeing into any form of deal and thus does not take the chance of gambling everything that could cost his company. Fourthly he sets goals that are realistic and achievable for the team members. He knows what he desires and how to get there since he tracks and documents his objectives for the company. Branson also knows how to solve the problems that are present. He sees an opportunity to fix issues and uses his skill to make the solutions work. He keeps adjusting his company where necessary and to fit the market as well as for the company to have a competitive edge amongst its competitors.
Richard Branson is known widely for his willingness to empower others, which is a reason behind the mass following and popularity that he has gained over the years. He is known to care about his customers and employees who drive people to want to be part of his organization as well as use the products and services that are affiliated to him. People want to be around those who build them and cause them to grow. He also acts on his ideas promptly without allowing room for procrastination leads to opportunities being lost and stagnation to occur. It is a trait that is shared by most of the leading entrepreneurs, they do not wait for success to come to them but they actively pursue it until with passion and creativity until they achieve it. Another quality that is outstanding is that Branson is constantly learning new techniques and skills that he is not familiar with which enables him to achieve new personal and professional goals. He is known for his famous statement which says the day someone stops learning is the day someone stops living (Hoover and Hollander, 1998). The ability to say no and walk away from ventures and investments that are not bringing in profit separates him from many leaders. He also collects as many facts as he can before making any decision. He makes decisions that are informed and not subjective in nature which are healthy for business. He knows his strong areas and recruits people who will cover his weak areas. As noted above Richard suffered from dyslexia from childhood yet he published a magazine and continues to grow his business beyond the bounds. He has managed to achieve this despite his weakness by recruiting a talented team to enable him to manage the companies that are under the Virgin Empire as opposed to micromanaging everything himself.
The Virgin Brand encompasses many businesses from mobile phones, bridal wear to pension plans and art. It might be the only brand in the entire world that has offers such a vast array of services and products. It is interesting to note that the company has succeeded through diversification rather than being diluted by it. The company is famous for its inexpensive, innovative and interesting alternative compared to the other competitors in the industry (Limited, 2016). The company is based in New York and London but operates with a global outlook investing in opportunities across developing and developed countries. The company identifies the existing opportunities in markets where there are undeserved consumers. It works with entrepreneurs to commercialize and identify exciting and innovative new services, technologies and business models. It also provides operational, marketing and financial experience to its portfolio companies creating drastic growth through brand turnarounds, acquisitions and also organically. Lastly it also seeks to bring a unique touch of the Virgin brand that is purpose driven and which displays prowess in customer service to portfolio business (Virgin flies high with brand extensions, 2002).
Evaluation of Richard Branson
The Richard Branson brand stands on its own distinct way apart from the Virgin brand. The person who has built the brand is charismatic and humble as well. He is warm and approachable in nature as reported by many who have had the opportunity to interact with him one on one. Such an approach allows for the staff members to be at ease and work in an environment that has a peaceful culture which spurs a lot of creativity. His passion in tackling the challenges of the current age from social inequality to climate change is impeccably commendable. His passion seems to trickle down to other people mainly those who are part of his team stimulating a lot of energy which is also experienced by the customers who purchase products and services from the company. It draws back to the culture of an organization and the effect it has on the sales and motivation of employees (Osborne, 2008). Richard is also able to balance his work and social life; he is known to push his employees to develop both areas of their lives as well. Allowing the staff members to develop their social life and pursue their hobbies aside from their responsibilities at work enables them to be well adjusted individuals who are able to offer their input excellently and diligently. His flexible approach in leadership that is not tied to particular rules, traditions and patterns is an out of the ordinary approach which fosters growth and creativity as well as allowing people to reason and think outside the box. He defines the way he does things as fun and assumes that people who engage in his business also enjoy themselves.
The motivation for many entrepreneurs is profit oriented but not many are driven towards doing what they enjoy which means at some point their fire fizzles out especially when the going gets tough (Virgin, 2016). As for Branson this is never the case since what he does he enjoys and what he enjoys he does. When he shared with his chief executive officers that he desired to begin an airline since he thought it would be enjoyable and fun, they did not warm up to the ideology. According to him enjoyment is one of the most underrated and yet most important prerequisite for a successful business venture. Considering the potential loss that can be made through taking a particular risk and limiting the possibility of such losses before advancing with a new venture is a lesson which he learnt from the time he wanted to quit school. His father would not allow him to drop out of school up until the moment that he would sell four thousand pounds of adverts to cover paper and printing costs for his magazine. An approach he has used up to date especially when he ventured into the airline business with Virgin Atlantic. He convinced his partners that the idea was viable when he was able to secure a deal with Boeing whereby they agreed to take back a Virgin jet after one year in a situation where the business did not operate as the management had planned (Virgin Atlantic managers check in for training, 2008). The strategy has given Branson the ability to maintain his agility as an entrepreneur.
Branson has also experienced moments of failure for example with virgin clothing and virgin cola. However an approach which has cost the business minimal losses is Richard’s strategy of closing down failed projects immediately and reiterating his ideas Virgin Atlantic managers check in for training (Industrial and Commercial Training, 2008). Again he is not a rigid man and his flexibility has been evidenced to save the company the risk of losing millions. He has shut down half as many companies as he has started. He learns from his mistakes as well as from other people which is a true definition of a great leader. Richard is customer centered a concentrates on getting all details right for the sake of the customer. He sometimes goes under disguise and plays the customer role in order to get the virgin customer experience. The hands on approach keeps him connected to the customers and informed of the consumer needs as well as the areas of improvement which his team needs to look into. He notes down his experience as a customer as well as the experience of other customers who he occasionally interviews randomly. Most brand owners are not aware of what is going on in the ground which means they are out of touch with their customers as well as their employees. He also entrusts his team with some of his roles through delegating which gives him the time and opportunity to think about more ideas that can grow the brand.
Richard Branson is a commendable leader who should be emulated; his leadership style and personality are not only admirable but also healthy for business. Needless to say if I were in his position I would also venture into mentoring other managers and entrepreneurs actively in order to help them achieve their goals and expand their business as I did. He has given a couple of leadership principles as well as a number of inspiring quotes, but taking an active role in journeying with other leaders and managers who are struggling in their industry can make a long lasting impact and enable him to leave a greater legacy than he has already built. Empowering children who have psychological disorders can also be an area which he can venture into given that he has experienced life in their shoes and known how to blossom in the midst of difficulty. Apart from these areas that involve in investing in the lives of others to help them improve themselves and their leadership skills, I would lead differently in other areas given that I was in Richard’s shoes.
Richard Branson’s story is an inspiring and motivating one. It cultivates the drive that is nothing is impossible. The impossibilities only exist in our minds which we live out throughout actions. We need more people like him in the society, successful people who have made it because they did what everyone fears; they took a risk and chose a path that was different from the norm. It is also a lesson that we can engage those who are strong in our weak areas to ensure growth and success instead of covering them up or draining all our resources and energy to make up for our deficiencies.
Feloni, R. (2016). Why Richard Branson is so successful. [online] Business Insider. Available at: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-richard-branson-maintains-the-virgin-group-2015-2 [Accessed 5 Jul. 2016].
Giuliani, R. and Kurson, K. (2002). Leadership. New York: Hyperion.
Hausman, A. and Hausman, A. (2013). Richard Branson – You Need to be Bold to make Billions. [online] Capitalist Creations. Available at: http://capitalistcreations.com/richard-branson-you-need-to-be-bold-to-make-billions/ [Accessed 5 Jul. 2016].
Hoover, G. and Hollander, M. (1998). Leadership readings. New York: McGraw-Hill/Primis Custom Pub.
Limited, V. (2016). Virgin Enterprises Limited: Private Company Information – Businessweek. [online] Bloomberg.com. Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/Research/stocks/private/snapshot.asp?privcapid=26685904 [Accessed 5 Jul. 2016].
Osborne, C. (2008). Leadership. London: DK Pub.
Tracy, B. (2014). Leadership. New York: American Management Association.
Virgin Atlantic managers check in for training. (2008). Industrial and Commercial Training, 40(6).
Virgin flies high with brand extensions. (2002). Strategic Direction, 18(10), pp.21-24.
Virgin.(2016). Richard. [online] Available at: https://www.virgin.com/richard-branson [Accessed 5 Jul. 2016].