I was fortunate to attend the Qualtrics X4 Conference this past March. There, Richard Branson was interviewed by the CEO and he was asked about leadership.
“All a business is is a group of people.” Humans that are coming together for the betterment of some kind of cause, whether to make money or help change the world. People who start with a company have high hopes and aspirations for success. If later, they don’t have the excitement and enthusiasm, was it their fault? Or did you not maybe give them the tools to do the job they had set out to do?
“Always have a notebook in your pocket” as a leader. If you’re the leader, you already know what’s in your head; listen to others, get their opinions, and take notes. Treat each day as a “fascinating learning experience” and be inquisitive of your team. See their perspectives and ask for their opinions. “Life is one life-long learning experience.”
He also said to “treat people as adults.” You have hired them to do a job that you need them to do. Don’t micromanage or change their work just because it isn’t exactly the way you would have done it. They’re not you. Hopefully, the reason you hired them, is that they’re better than you in that thing, or at least brighter than you and can learn it quickly to be great at it. He always recommends trying to promote from within first, before hiring an outsider. And if someone messes up, give them a second chance, and they tend to not re-offend.”
Branson also loves to incorporate humor into his work and partnerships. They showed up with a blimp on the day the British Airways sponsored London Eye was going to be erected. The press was all there and it was not going according to plan. With some scrambling, Virgin sent a blimp to hover around the area that said: “BA can’t get it up!”
He also showed a video of him and Ryan Reynolds promoting Ryan’s new product, Aviation Gin:
Branson and I have a lot in common. We have great people working with and for us, they’re all definitely smarter than me, and I have a passion for learning. Maybe I’ll be like Branson someday? I tend to think I didn’t start early enough. He began his magazine when he was a teenager. But I at least wrote for the local paper. And now I have this blog, so that’s growth in the right direction, right?
I’ll try to aim for a book soon, either a leadership book or just a fun book about my trek to Machu Picchu. Or just be happy with the e-book Data Wonderment is about to publish that contains all of our educational blog posts. Regardless, I’ll read Branson’s book, “Choosing My Virginity” as more inspiration.
Last video to share! I actually saw this a long time ago, but it makes me so happy every time I watch it, so I thought I would share it with you. It’s a conversation with Sir Richard Branson and Sir Desmond Tutu in Branson’s pool on his private island.