5 Traits of a Great Leader From Richard Branson [video]

We all have life experiences. Some reflect failures and some are successes.

If you’re an aspiring social or business entrepreneur you have probably heard that you should surround yourself with people that do what you want to do and can lift you up.

Why not take a page or two out of successful entrepreneur Richard Branson’s playbook? His list of accomplishments is nothing to sneeze at. Now we might not all go on to create the next Virgin Records or Airline but we can learn an awful lot from a person who’s walked that path.

Whether you have heard these core tips before or not doesn’t matter. These are foundational pieces of advice that we all need to hear every so often as a reminder. It’s so easy to slip back into bad habits or poor lines of thought.

Take these seriously, apply them in your life, make them habit!

THREE: Expose Yourself

Richard Branson is visible.

You have to be willing to put yourself out there. No great leader hides behind a desk.

Branson always makes a point to visit his staff and meet customers.

During interviews, Branson has mentioned that when he is on one of his flights, he will go and meet his crew and passengers with a notebook in hand. Why? This way he can both hear and record their ideas (remember what we said about listening?).

This is a very busy person and despite that, he takes their names and email addresses and makes a point of responding to them by the next day. That is very powerful.

He also puts himself in the spotlight, whether it’s on the internet or TV or movies.

You can’t be afraid to put yourself out there!

FOUR: Challenge the Status-Quo

This is straightforward but many people neglect it because of fear. It’s easier and more comfortable to go with the grain than against it. But no “game-changing” idea was ever status-quo

Great leaders think without boundaries and believe in themselves despite what others say. If they think you’re crazy, maybe you’re on the right track then. Detach yourself from other people’s opinions and ideas and believe in yourself.

“Challenge the status-quo, disrupt the market and say YES! And remember that innovation is an endless quest.” ~Richard Branson

Branson broke the mold with banking. Virgin Money is a bank in Britain where the branches look more like living rooms than banks. There are tables for Wi-Fi, newspapers, and comfortable seating. This eliminates lines and teller windows.

Virgin Money Bank
Virgin Money Bank

FIVE: Money Shouldn’t be the Top Priority, Create Value in the World

Branson has stated that he never has gone into any business purely to make money. He believe that if money is your only motive, then you shouldn’t launch the business at all.

“As you design your product or service, remember your resolve to serve the public; business is about improving other people’s lives. Hopefully, once you’ve done that, more money comes in than goes out. From Virgin Records and Virgin Atlantic to Virgin Money and Virgin Active, our team has always launched businesses out of a genuine desire to disrupt the status-quo and improve things for customers. “ ~Richard Branson

This is a great piece of advice. Why?

A great business has loyal customers but loyalty has to be earned. You have to earn their trust and offer them a lot of value. When you build a business to solve a problem that offers people value, and that’s your driving force, money will follow.

ONE: Great Leaders Listen More

One of the most difficult of all, aside from attempting to stop complaining, even for a week.

Humans tend to wait for their turn to talk. We get thoughts in our heads which are triggered by what the other person is saying. As soon, as that happens we are no longer listening, we are planning what we’ll say.

Some people will cut you right off because they get so anxious they just can’t wait. Have you ever experienced this or even done it to someone? Don’t lie, you know you have! We all have.

Dale Carnegie, author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People” will back this recommendation up any day of the week.

It’s a bad habit and it takes practice to break a bad habit.

Richard Branson’s success is also attributed to the fact he was a great leader. Great leaders have learned the value and power of genuinely listening to a person.

You can have a conversation with someone for 30 minutes and just listen sincerely to them. They will walk away thinking it was a great discussion.

“To be a good leader you have to be a great listener. Brilliant ideas can spring from the most unlikely places, so you should always keep your ears open for some shrewd advice. “ ~Richard Branson

TWO: Keep it Simple

You want to be unique. You want to do something nobody has done before to stand out. That’s great but it doesn’t mean you have to do something that’s overly complicated.
Look around, there are many problems the world faces today which can be seen as opportunities simple business solutions.

“Maintain a focus upon innovation, but don’t try to reinvent the wheel. A simple change for the better is far more effective than five complicated changes for the worse.’ ~Richard Branson

So often, people feel the need to over-complicated things which not only makes it more likely to fail but it takes longer and requires more investment. Stay focused, keep it simple.

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