Every organization has people who are not living up to their full potential. There is enormous amount of energy flowing, which the leaders are supposed to channel into the right direction. It is in the leader’s hands to direct the energy externally and help shape the organization’s brand identity.
A leader is like a social worker, who provides a sense of security, inspires trust and confidence and creates a safe environment. Here, emotional intelligence is the much needed trait that distinguishes effective from ineffective leaders.
The most effective leaders recognize that
leadership means building a safe haven where people can be creative and become completely immersed in what they are doing. Richard Branson has created an organizational structure where people have a sense of ownership over what they are doing. These are the three traits of charismatic leadership - envisioning, empowering and energizing – which are essential to address people’s latent talent and bring them out in the open to make the world a better place.
Branson applies his philosophy religiously – his organizations exist as small autonomous units which are run by self-managed departments made up of people who work autonomously. At such organizations, people set their own standards and rewards, and are eager to learn and know how to adapt. They go to great lengths to change the mindset of people who aren’t committed to the organization to achieve common goals. Virgin Atlantic, for instance, is an excellent example of this school of thought. Here, every single effort is made to surprise the customer in an enlightening way. First class passengers receive free
access to in-flight aromatic relaxation massage. There’s car service at both ends of the trip, all inclusive in the price of the ticket. In fact, Richard Branson himself is known to personally meet flights that arrive late or experience delays.
At organizations like Virgin Atlantic, performance is not merely an abstraction. All the processes are directed towards providing the best customer experience and to enhance the possibility to improvisation through feedback loop.
At Virgin Atlantic, every employee is familiar with the corporate culture of their organization. The values are fostered through workshops, meetings and seminars. People are expected to internalize the values and behave accordingly. In other words, Virgin Atlantic has never lost touch with the importance of human capital. All employees are well treated and remain at the core of its success.
In the world of business, where shareholders control everything, Virgin continues to grow by doing things that are important to its employees and the customers. It puts employees first, customers second and the shareholders third because they see the wonders engaged employees can make in an organization. This is employee engagement – Richard Branson way! He may not have written books on HR and leadership, but he has built successful global businesses on the principle of putting employees first. The appeal of his companies is down to the leadership style which recognizes that happy employees equal more profits.