Richard Branson is my chosen leadership role model.
He was born in 1950 and had dyslexia which attributed to his poor academic performance at school (Wikipedia, Sir Richard Branson), this poor academic performance would go against trait theory for intelligence. Conversely, it’s implied that Richard has a vast knowledge of business as he’s not only involved but has set up numerous businesses. Richard is driven by achieving things that haven’t been achieved before, is a self-confessed born optimist and like helping people learn to swim.
(Richard Branson: Entrepreneurialism and Failure (2017))
Trait leadership can be used to determine the leader’s effectiveness. The research was undertaken to determine if there were common characteristics, such as; Physiological (height/weight), Demographic (age, education), Personality (self-confidence), Intellective (intelligence, judgment, and knowledge), Task-related (achievement drive) and Social characteristics (sociability). It was determined through this research (MSG nd) that successful leaders have characteristics that are different from those who are less effective leaders. One of the key limitations to Trait theory is that it focuses on who the leader is, rather than what the leader does.
Richard partly embodies the Demographic characteristic through age, not education. Personality and Social characteristics are both strong characteristics. Task-related characteristics seemed to come into play early with Richard as from a very young age, he was very driven to start up numerous companies, even if some have failed. His intellect is strong, this has come from experience though and has continued throughout his life.
One of the most significant and popular views of leadership skills and behavior is the Mumford et al framework (Mumford).
This framework focuses on how a leader displays knowledge and skills related to their performance. The framework consists of Individual Attributes, Competencies, Outcomes, and Additional factors that represent great leadership.
While looking at Individual Attributes, the main characteristics ‘Motivation’ really stands out as a characteristic that Richard embodies due to his willingness to influence others through his humanitarian endeavors, accepting responsibility through his failures and tackle complicated organizational problems through his numerous businesses.
‘Problem-solving skills’ is a characteristic within ‘Competencies’ within this framework which stands out with regard to Richard as he’s often trying to solve unusual and complex problems, often getting other people which greater knowledge on the issues, such as space travel through his company Virgin Galactic and through The Elders in which they work on solutions for insurmountable problems such as climate change, HIV/AIDS and poverty. I liken this to fit into the ‘effective problem-solving’ characteristic for ‘Outcomes’ also.
‘Additional factors’ is the last capability within the framework and both characteristics /Career experiences’ and ‘Environmental influences’ are both prevalent within Richards’s life. His career experiences have progressively had more impact on society and have been more challenging over time, from firstly selling a magazine to creating non-for-profits or starting Virgin Galactic. Technology and resources being internal factors have evolved over time which could have influenced Richards’s success. I feel that later in Richards life, PESTLE has had a bigger influence in his career as the companies he has started have different impacts to those earlier created, ‘Student’ is a small magazine compared to ‘Virgin Group’ is a company that owns numerous other companies having greater influence.
There are two leadership styles discussed so far, Consideration (People-focused) and Initiating Structure (Task-related). Some characteristics of ‘Consideration’ are, being nice, treating everyone fairly, considering personal welfare, and making oneself available to others. Characteristics of ‘Initiating structure’ is, scheduling the work to be done, allocating work to people, giving people lists of tasks to be completed.
Richard embodies the leadership style of ‘Consideration’ rather than ‘Tasks’. A quote from Richard “you cannot be a great leader without great people to lead” (Robert Half, 9 leadership skills from Sir Richard Branson, Para 4) really resonates with me, and is clear that Richard focuses on people more than being task-related.
3 media link that illustrates Richard Branson as a leader;
To lead with integrity, creating an engaged and enjoyable working environment while developing and mentoring staff.
Transformational leadership is a leadership style that focuses on staff rather than the leader like in charismatic leadership. Transformational leaders take into consideration the values and needs of their followers, they spend time to develop and empower their staff, they unlock higher performance through empowerment rather than directional commands or controls.
There are four key characteristics with Transformational Leadership; Charisma, Inspirational, Intellectual Stimulation, and Individualized Consideration.
Charisma in transformational leadership enables a leader to gain respect and can motivate staff easily which then helps leaders gain followers. I find by using charisma in the workplace as a leader, you’re able to engage staff. I do this by getting to know my staff, being open and honest with them about the business, supporting them with the decision they make, and recognizing their hard work and achievements. I agree with Bass (1990) that employees want to identify with charismatic leaders as by doing the above, this engages my staff.
Inspirational leaders use a combination of strengths to motivate individuals and teams to achieve goals and holds them accountable for results. Inspirational leaders use empowerment to unlock high performance, using direct orders will not have the desired outcome. I find that really understanding and knowing what motivates my staff enables me to inspire them and create an enjoyable working environment for them.
Using Intellectual inspiration through transformational leadership I think is one of the strongest ways to motivate and engage staff. By enabling staff to think things out on their own, to support them in their decisions rather than doing everything yourself really highlights being a transformational leader. I agree with Bass (1990) that intellectual stimulating leaders are willing and able to show their employees new ways of looking at old problems, to teach them to see difficulties as problems to be solved and to emphasize rational solutions.
I agree with Bass (1990) that transformational leaders are individually considerate, they pay close attention to differences among their employees; they act as mentors to those who need help to grow and develop. Spending time and really understanding your staff is vital, being able to know what motivates them individually will enable you to inspire and motivate them. I spend a lot of time really focusing on my staff, ensuring I’m able to allocate specific work to certain people based on their strengths, ‘the right people in the right job’ is something I often say.
We’re currently going through the process of forecasting for 2020. My team and I must go through our clients one by one to forecast them for 2020, ensuring we come to a specific number that the office must achieve in 2020. This gives me an opportunity to coach and supports my team members around specific accounts, challenges they may be experiencing, or roadblocks they’re up against with certain clients. I’m able to coach them around what to say to clients and how to present a proposal to the client. We often come up against roadblocks around fees, I’m able to give staff support through knowledge and experience and how to present solutions to clients. This interaction enables me to really focus on my coaching leadership style.
I’m currently working with my team to allocate our state 2020 marketing budget. While in the past I’ve been somewhat directional around where we should be spending our money, I’ve really involved the team this year and have asked them to come up with ideas on where the funds should be spent and on what events. For the events in Q1 and Q2, we’d like to get these arranged prior to year-end and the events in Q3 and Q4 can be arranged early next year. In a group setting, we’ve all discussed the best events for our clients and what looks like our best return on investment, I’ve ensured everyone has been able to contribute to the conversation and provided everyone the framework as to how things have worked in the past & what guidelines we have to observe. This has really helped me practice my ‘Facilitating’ leadership style.
Throughout the year I run compliance workshops for our office, specifically about giving ‘no advice’ (financial services) to clients. While this is often seen as a ‘directing’ exercise, I change it to a ‘coaching and facilitating’ exercise by engaging with everyone in the office, ensuring everyone has the ability to voice their opinion and collectively come up with answers to some hard questions. There isn’t specific right or wrong answers, it’s about working together as a team to ensure everyone has a clear understanding. Often, the team members are able to take over the conversation and I become an observer, listening to what they’re saying. This exercise initially could be seen as directing as it’s something I’ve been instructed to do and inform our staff of, has changed to more of a coaching and facilitating exercise with a bit of observing. This also enables me to see how staff communicate with each other, in which staff members have good leadership skills themselves.
This week, your task is to identify one key roadblock that is hindering you in your efforts to meet your professional goals at work. This may be a psychological obstacle such as confidence, or an external one such as lack of opportunity. Referring to path-goal theory describe how your leader could contribute to removing these roadblocks. Reflect on why your leader may (or may not) be able to assist. (500 words)
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