Sir Richard Branson, billionaire and founder of the Virgin Group, is not your typical businessman. Branson is someone who has created thousands of jobs for talented people around the world. According to the Forbes 2012 list of billionaires, he is the sixth richest citizen of the United Kingdom, with an estimated net worth of US $4.6 billion.
Branson was born in Surrey, England, in 1950. At a young age, he dealt with dyslexia, making his school life difficult for him. However, he started revealing his leadership expertise at the mere age of 16. He dropped out of high school and went on to start a youth-oriented magazine called “Student” in 1966. Three years later he started Virgin, which offered mail-order records to gain funds for his magazine. This record company did well enough to let the self-made billionaire magnify his venture. Today, the Virgin Group is one of the world’s most renowned brands, with over 400 companies, which includes a bank, bridal wear, mobile phones, pension plans, music, hotel chain and airlines.
Branson is known for his rule-breaking style to leadership. He claims, “To change the game is at the heart of what Virgin stands for. So the company culture has always been: Don’t sweat it: rules were meant to be broken.”
But a good leader does not just mean taking charge and directing people; it also means putting those on your team in charge. The exceptional tycoon made a conscious decision to step aside from his business so that his team could discover their true abilities without him. He avers, “If you are not always there, it forces other people to call the shots, which in turn improves their own leadership skills, builds their confidence and strengthens your business.”
Aside from being a business magnate, Branson has several books to his credit, such as, Like a Virgin: Secrets They Won’t Teach You at Business School; Screw It, Let’s Do It; and Business Stripped Bare: Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur. He has also ventured into outer space, starting his space tourism start-up, Virgin Galactic, through which space tourists will experience supersonic speeds, weightlessness, and a view of the curvature of the Earth.
Sir Richard Branson is a symbolic entrepreneur, revered for his leadership style with a purpose to help craft great leaders. Although he might have had his share of failures, what makes him exceedingly worthy is his willpower to come out of it, making him a true leader to follow.