Would You Take Leadership Advice From Richard Branson?

No doubting Richard Branson's empire is successful! Discover leadership advice he followed to create enduring success and how you can use it to improve your leadership career

There's no doubting Richard Branson is successful! So, getting leadership advice from him (or from his mentors) could help you fast-track your leadership career.

Richard says the best leadership advice he ever got was:

... my mother, Eve, always taught me never to look back in regret but to move on to the next thing. The amount of time people waste dwelling on failures rather than putting that energy into another project always amazes me. I have had fun running all of the Virgin businesses, so I never see a setback as a bad experience; it is just a learning curve.

My mother also told me not to openly criticize other people. If she heard me speaking ill of someone, she would make me stand in front of the mirror for five minutes and stare at myself. Her reasoning? All my critical talk was a poor reflection on my own character.

Don't openly criticize

Richard's Mum's second piece of leadership advice "to not openly criticize" is an absolute gem.

People who do a lot of criticizing, often have low self-esteem. So, check out the series of articles listed at the bottom of this page, to make sure that your self-esteem isn't getting in the way of great leadership.

But for the moment, let's focus on the impact of criticism on individual performance.

When people are criticized they become defensive 

When people become defensive, they become more immersed in defending their character and their position than on focusing on improving performance.

Sure, as a leader, there are times when you have to give people negative performance feedback.

But how you deliver the feedback can be critical to your long-term relationship, and the performance of the individual.

Am I the only person who has walked out of a performance appraisal thinking 'screw you buddy!'?

And, I can think of many times too, when I've received feedback that while uncomfortable to hear - was delivered in a way that I was more focused on the improvement I needed to make, than on justifying myself or feeling diminished in any way.

Under-performance must be addressed ... but in a charge neutral way

You may want to read more about how to provide people with critical feedback and have them walk away still on your side!

In a high-performance workplace I worked and led in, talking about others negatively or behind their backs wasn't tolerated. 

Certainly, if someone was under-performing, their performance was addressed. But it was done using the skills that I outline in the training Successful Feedback. People were crystal clear about the performance levels required. And, if for some reason their performance needed to be improved, it was done in a way that ensured the person came away feeling empowered.

So, heed Richard's leadership advice: don't tolerate people criticizing or gossiping about others.

And, if you haven't been getting it quite right - again Richard's advice hits the mark: Don't look back in regret - move forward and do it better next time.

You can read the full article here: Richard Branson: Five Questions on Business Philosophy

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