“Transformational leaders aim to lead by example, encouraging employees to follow a set of values rather than a rulebook.” Simon Markland, Author
When I think of transformational leadership, Richard Branson (“Branson”) comes to mind. Branson is the Founder of Virgin Atlantic Group. The Virgin Group is one of the world’s most recognized and respected brands, with over 400 companies. The Branson philosophy of management says it all. He is absolutely certain that it’s a key to success and what makes his company different from others; his leaders have to motivate employees. Branson believes that is what makes any company successful. “If you can motivate your people, use their creative potential, you can get through the bad times and enjoy the good times together … if your employees are happy and smiling and enjoying their work, they will perform well.”
According to the Financial Times, Transformational leadership consists of six behaviors: articulating a vision, setting a positive example, communicating high performance expectations, showing sensitivity to individual followers’ needs, encouraging a team attitude, and providing intellectual stimulation. Research shows that groups led by transformational leaders boast higher levels of performance than groups led by other types of leaders. Transformational leaders’ high expectations give their subordinates the self-confidence to persist in the face of setbacks, often resulting in exceptional performance (Financial Times, n.d.).
In an article, “Transactional or Transformational – Which Leadership Style is Best?” the author brings attention to true well known transformational leaders, and Richard Branson was among the few. The way Branson and the others see it, “Transformational leadership focuses instead on building a values-led work culture. Employees work hard not because they seek reward, but because they believe it’s the right thing to do. They respect the company values, and find meaning beyond their monthly pay check. This ultimately builds employee loyalty, and in turn improving retention rates and cultivating a healthy workplace culture,” (Markland, 2015).
What makes Richard Branson a successful leader is that he is fun, warm, friendly, takes risks, competitive, hard negotiator and lastly, a workaholic. Branson manages to maintain a healthy leader-member relationship with all his people. He treats his employees on all levels as equals, like family with respect, and welcomes feedback and/or suggestions from his employees. Surprisingly, his organization has no established procedures on how things should be done, and works on flat and non-hierarchical structure. Instead, it is made of clusters. His staff are given the freedom to work without much interference from superiors (Joseph, 2015). Given Branson’s adaptability to easily change in organizational cultures and make major changes in times of distress, while maintaining social values, contribute to the style that works best for him, which is the transformational leadership style.
Definition of transformational Leadership. (n.d.). Financial Times. Retrieved from http://lexicon.ft.com/Term?term=transformational-leadership
Simon, M. (2015). Transactional or Transformational – Which Leadership Style is Best? Switch and Shift. Retrieved from http://switchandshift.com/transactional-or-transformational-which-leadership-style-is-best
Joseph, C. (2015). Richard Branson Leadership Style Commandments. Driving Business Connections. Retrieved from http://www.josephchris.com/richard-branson-leadership-style-commandments