9 minutes | Apr 22, 2019

Sir Richard Branson

On this week's A Call to Lead, we bring you one of the greatest entrepreneurs and business builders the world has ever seen: Sir Richard Branson. I had the pleasure of talking with Sir Richard at a recent event hosted by SAP Qualtrics. We discussed what makes a great, creative leader and the gaps in consumer experience he saw and exploited in building the iconic Virgin brand and disrupting industries ranging from music to airlines to telecom to space travel. Sir Richard’s team was kind enough to let us take a few of the highlights from our conversation and create a short episode of A Call to Lead. Here are five points that the team felt stood out from my conversation with this one of a kind businessman, adventurer, philanthropist, and global icon.  Balance and wellness start with the individual but scale with a global mindset. Sir Richard noted that at Virgin, “We have a something…where the first thing you do is draw a circle around yourself. You make sure that you're looking after yourself, that you find time to keep fit, to keep healthy. You get the right balance...Then increase the circle a bit bigger, around your family, around your friends...around your town, your country, and ultimately when you have a global brand, you can draw a circle around the world.” We’ve heard this from other guests before, but Sir Richard talked (again) about the importance of leaders stepping outside their opinions to listen, learn, and challenge their assumptions: “You've got to be a good listener. If you're running a company, or if you're running a department, you know what you think. You don't need to hear your own voice speaking.” Loyalty matters. But loyalty is earned by the small things. Sir Richard talked about how important it is to put a spotlight on the all-stars that come up with great ideas. “If somebody comes up with a good idea, write it down. Thank the person. Give them credit for the idea, and they will stay with your company. They'll be very loyal.” Culture matters and so does having an engaged workforce. Sir Richard talked about how that focus is pervasive at Virgin. “Everyday, you've got to be able to go into work feeling great about it. And if you feel that your company is not behaving in the right way, try to force change within your company. Ask the company to experiment.” Building a performance-driven culture means offering great experiences to your people. Sir Richard talked about how he encourages all the Virgin companies to offer unrestricted vacation time to all employees. “At Virgin, we encourage all our companies to give indefinite holiday time. Paid. People get the work done, and they give back 100% in return. So in treating people as adults, the company will get everything back from those people.”  We hope you enjoy this episode! You can learn more by visiting: www.sap.com/acalltolead. And you can subscribe and listen to episodes on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, and Stitcher. We welcome your feedback on the pod! Tweet me @JenniferBMorgan and use the hashtag #acalltolead or e-mail us at acalltolead@sap.com.  Where to Listen: Subscribe and listen to episodes on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, and Stitcher. --- Jennifer Morgan is a member of the Executive Board of SAP SE and President of SAP’s Cloud Business Group.
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