Is Richard Branson a manager or a leader Case Study

25 Mar

Is Richard Branson a manager or a leader Case Study

In the ordinary world, the words leader and manager are used synonymously to refer to the person taking charge of an organization. In the real sense however the two words are separate with different meanings. A manager’s primary task is limited with the 5 functions of planning, staffing, organizing, controlling and directing.


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On the other hand, a leader’s primary roles are to motivate and inspire his followers. For a leader to run an organization, he needs some managerial skills to be effective.

Similarly, a manager needs some leadership skills to lead people. With this interdependency between the two terms, it is very difficult to exclusively categorize Richard Branson as either a manager or a leader. In my view, Richard Branson is both a leader and a manager. For this particular case, I will argue that Branson is more of a leader and less of a manager.

Considering the successes, Richard Branson is no doubt a good manager—but he is however a better and an exemplary leader. There are several reasons to this conclusion. First, Branson has a rich history of entrepreneurship and success despite being young and in college when he founded his first business. In leadership theory, a leader originates and innovatively develops. A manager on the other hand, administers and maintains.

We see a lot of originality and innovation in Branson when he launches the student magazine and later virgin brand and the vast business empire. The second reason why Branson is a leader is his focus and trust in people to drive innovation and success.

He exemplifies tremendous trust and confidence in people’s abilities when he turns flight attendants wedding business idea into a viable venture. He demonstrates trust and faith in his employees to clad on a wedding dress during the launch. In contrast, a manager is very keen to show control and authority.

Relationship between Branson and his followers

Branson’s relationship with his followers depicts a perfect leader-follower kind of relationship. This is a relationship where the leader at any one moment can cede his role of a leader to assume of a follower and vice versa. It allows the leader to mentor his followers to be leaders in their own right. We see this when Branson takes the follower role in the wedding business idea and allows his flight attendant to assume leadership. By relegating himself to a follower, he is able to accord his employee the space to freely innovate.


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Leadership myths demystified by Branson

Often, many people associate leadership with academic ability and performance. However, as proven by Branson this is just a myth. Academic achievements alone do not always translate to effective leadership.

Similarly, lack of it does not imply ineffective leadership. Branson was only a college student without an outstanding academic record yet he was able to start and run a successful business. The other myth debunked is that of humility and leadership.

Being humble and easing some control does not infer to ineffective leadership. One does not require to lord over other people to lead. Just as Branson, one can seize control and entrusts his businesses to other people and prosper. Great ideas originate from people and only when they are given a chance to express themselves that these ideas can come out.

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