Ada ke CEO-CEO kat M'sia yang menghargai pekerja2 macam Richard Branson?
Sir Richard Branson had his first jolt of entrepreneurial success when he published a magazine at 16. Since then, he’s become a respected leader of cutting-edge enterprises and an inspiring pioneer of humanitarian projects. Hundreds of businesses later and billions of dollars wealthier, he shares with me his top three leadership tips.
Branson’s first chunk of advice is to find good people and listen to them. “Assemble a great management team that has a vision, passion and a real sense of ownership,” he says. “Look for leaders who listen - both to employees and customers,” adding further that what results in brilliant customer service and innovative product development are leaders who seek the feedback of their employees and customers.
“When things start going wrong, it’s often because staff members feel they are being ignored and good ideas are not bubbling to the top,” he says, explaining that the best CEOs are not concerned with the size of their office “or the thickness of the carpet”, and instead place greater emphasis on unearthing what their employees are thinking and feeling.
Advertisement: Story continues belowBranson’s second leadership pointer is that employees aren’t just resources working in the business; they are the business. “A successful business isn’t the product or service, its supply chain or its corporate culture: it is a group of people bound together by a common purpose and vision,” he says. “The best-designed business plan will come to nothing if it is not carried out by an enthusiastic and passionate staff.”
He’s emphatic about the difference this makes when stuff-ups occur. A team of friendly and proactive employees can win customers over, but a team of cold and disinterested workers just make a tough situation worse. “The manager must back this up by looking for the best in people,” he says. “Rather than focusing on mistakes, catch someone doing something right every day.”
Which leads to the one leadership action that’s easier to administer than any other, and yet is the single factor consistently lacking in many workplaces: recognition. “Fostering employee development through praise and recognition starts at the top,” he says. “It helps stamp out the fear of failure that can stunt a business, particularly in its early days. When mistakes inevitably happen, take the position that you have to learn from them. Try not to dwell on what went wrong. It’s almost always better not to go over the obvious with the people involved. They know exactly what happened.”
Branson’s third recommendation for excellent leadership is exemplified by his branding and the experience people have when interacting with his staff: lighten up. “Find the fun in your business,” he says. “Try to ensure that both your staff and customers feel a real sense of warmth and affection.” He advises leaders that for employees to treat clients in a heartfelt and attentive way, they need to love their work and be proud of the company. “So look for people who show genuine enthusiasm and character and try to manage them that way.”
Despite asking him for just three tips, Branson threw in a bonus one: courage. “My phrase over the years has been - Screw it, just do it, because to succeed as a business leader, you must have the bravery to give it a go,” he says. “One needs resolve and conviction to overcome hurdles and give people confidence to follow you.”
My blog post a fortnight ago dissected a harsh book that urges leaders to use fear, tyranny, and micromanagement to succeed in business. People like Richard Branson prove that the opposite is true. It’s not fear that motivates employees; but hope and vision. It’s not tyranny that gets the best out of people; but consultation and collaboration. It’s not micromanagement that results in high performance; but compassion and ownership.
Coincidentally, Branson will be here in September speaking at the Ultimate Success Summit – the same month that brutal book gets released in Australia. One will be spreading a message that inspires, while the other will seek to incite the ire of those who read it. One breaks world records with hot air balloons. The other is full of hot air. Give me Branson any day.