“There is no greater thing you can do with your life and your work than follow your passions in a way that serves the world and you.” Richard Branson
Few business leaders have had as exciting a life as Richard Branson. His entrepreneurial journey started at a very young age, and the name of his first company was Virgin Records. One of his employees chose the name as a fun way to denote that they were all virgins when it comes to starting a business.
Richard’s first company was in the music industry, where he got to rub shoulders with some of the movers and shakers. But, he was not satisfied. He decided to move beyond the glamorous life of the music industry and grew his brand to form a group of companies with interests in diverse industries that include travel, sports, publishing, healthcare, retail, and banking.
Despite his phenomenal rise in the corporate world, Richard has remained a down to earth person who cares about his employees and he always has fun with everything that he does. His leadership style is different, but relatable.
Leadership Skill #1: Treat People Like Adults
When people join a company, they are there to do a job. If the HR has gotten it right, the person will perform as expected.
Richard recommends companies to treat people like adults and not like children. If this is the culture you promote in your company, then your employees will respect the firm and the business leader.
Many companies talk about treating the employees like a family. Richard feels that many of these companies misuse the word “family.” You have to show your employees that you mean what you say through your actions.
Do your employees have to ask permission every time they go attend a wedding or some other family engagement? Do you offer them flexibility around the work, or do you watch the time to make sure they clock in the required amount of time?
Some jobs have some special requirements. Richard can’t give a pilot the kind of flexibility he can give an editor in his publishing company. The kind of environment you have to build in the company has to be in line with the nature of the work and the industry.
Leadership Skill #2: Have a To Do List
Richard has been using “To Do Lists” for decades. He credits his enormous success to this little thing.
When you don’t write down a list of things, many of them may never get done. When you write down all the things you need to do in a day, week, month, and a year; you will be able to track down the little things that can fall through the cracks if you don’t pay attention.
You may not be able to do everything that is there in the list, but it is important to write them down because by doing this you know what you are aspiring to achieve in the coming year.
Leadership Skill #3: Learn from Your Team and From Your Customers
What is the point in telling people what you think about a subject? You already know what your ideas are.
According to Richard, what you should do instead as a leader is listen more and learn from your team and from your customers. This is how you get fresh ideas and opinions that can challenge some of your beliefs.
Richard has the habit of writing things down when he hears something interesting or important. What happens when he doesn’t write things down is that he forgets some of the good ideas the very next day.
Some of these brilliant ideas that Richard gets to hear about happen over a drink at the bar. If he doesn’t write them down, he knows for sure that he will not remember them the next day.
Did you miss out on an idea just because you failed to write it down the moment you heard it?
Leadership Skill #4: Find the Right People and Delegate
Perhaps the most important skill any leader has to develop quickly is the ability to find the right people to hire and then delegate to them. Small business owners can get most of the work done themselves, but as the company grows they will realize that it is nerve wracking to manage multiple things at the same time. As the company grows, your job will essentially be limited to people management.
Richard learnt very early in his life that he needed to delegate work in order to grow. The skill he developed was to find people who had good interpersonal skills, find people who look for the best attributes in others, and find people who don’t criticize.
Richard is a generally positive person. He believes that if you stay positive you will be in a better position to make positive things happen.
There is always something negative happening somewhere around the world. If you are glued to the news you will know all the depressing things that are happening around you.
Staying positive is a skill that helps you to look beyond the problems and remain hopeful about a better future.
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