Richard Branson and His Leadership Action Logics


The subject of leadership is one of the most widely researched topics in contemporary studies. Despite many theoretical frameworks being established in examining this issue, a critical concern arises entailing the means to becoming an effective leader. Leaders fail or succeed in their leadership roles, despite their experience in various administrative positions. Addressing this concern cannot be exhaustive without mentioning the concept of action logic, whereby unique elements that help people strengthen their leadership capabilities are emphasized. Rook and Torbert’s article reveals that indeed very few leaders understand their action logic. As a result, they are unable to identify ways of avoiding failures. Based on the information presented in this study, being well equipped with knowledge regarding Rook and Torbert’s seven transformations of leadership can help managers and companies’ CEOs to embark on development programs that enhance their capacities to manage people and, consequently, their businesses. Charles Richard Branson is presented as a global business leader whose conducting business depicts various leadership action logic, as discussed later in this study.

Seven Leadership Action Logics


Opportunists are egotistical individuals who always want to use their organizational positions to exploit workers. They are more concerned about their success compared to that of their organizations, work teams, or even the departments they lead. They take advantage of their co-workers’ strengths to earn individual recognition. To accomplish this self-interested agenda, they engage in consistent manipulations of situations and people since they view them as opportunities that can be tapped to satisfy their selfish desires. This action logic is linked to organizational performance problems. For instance, rudeness, the justification of one’s bad behavior, harsh reactions, and the rejection of feedback destroy an opportunist’s relationship with junior employees (Rook and Torbert 68). Therefore, the lack of trust due to counterproductive interactions in the workplace encompasses one major drawback of opportunist leadership. Although opportunists may be successful because of the exciting working environment created, failure is unavoidable in the long term if they do not embrace other leadership action logic. Adopting this move may involve beginning to appreciate and value others’ contributions, rewarding success, and giving credit to hard workers.


Diplomats are worried about being trapped in conflicts. Therefore, they deploy all means possible to avoid workplace disagreements. In particular, in addition to making favorable decisions, they take actions that please others, especially senior leaders and administrators. Such leaders do not like participating in change implementation because they are aware of conflicts associated with these processes. They do not want to be involved in making decisions that upset team members or co-workers.

Nevertheless, such leaders are highly effective in work environments where teamwork is valued as a source of organizational success. Leaders in this action logic always seek middle ground to stabilize any deteriorating relationships in the workplace (Rook and Torbert 68). Hence, as companies’ bosses, diplomats stand out as weak individuals who avoid decision-making and allow others to step in their ways. Moving away from diplomatic leadership requires recognizing conflicts as hurdles that strengthen one’s capacity to deal with people. For example, constructive conflicts help in idea generation by stimulating discussions among work team members. Instead of avoiding such unfavorable situations, a diplomat should embrace the essence of facing challenges head-on.


In Rook and Torbert’s sample, experts accounted for about 38% of all leaders who participated in the interview (70). Instead of dwelling on controlling people to realize self-motivated benefits as witnessed in opportunists, experts focus much of their energy on perfecting their vocational coupled with personal knowledge. They believe that being proficient in their particular business lines can help them exercise control over others. Such leaders add value to an organization due to their capacity to interrelate different past experiences to make decisions that best fit their current situations. Nevertheless, they are prone to a dogmatic approach to leadership following their ignorance of other people’s ideas. In particular, they may refuse or become reluctant to involve workers in discussions that generate new thoughts. In the worst-case scenario, co-workers and team members refuse to cooperate with experts because of their dismissive behaviors. Hence, such leaders must allow others to not only share their thoughts and opinions but also give feedback before making decisions.


Achievers mainly focus on organizational outcomes. They set leadership objectives following the SMART criterion. This leadership approach ensures that organizational objectives are explicit, quantifiable, achievable, appropriate, and time-bound (Wilson et al. 178). Such leaders accounted for 30% of all participants sampled by Rook and Torbert (70). While achievers can create a positive job atmosphere, the article reveals that they are incapable of reasoning and thinking outside the box.

Nonetheless, in addition to embracing feedback, they recognize that conflicts are part of healthy relationships and arise because of people’s diverse ways of interpreting different situations. Compared to opportunists, diplomats, and experts, achievers have higher levels of emotional intelligence. They make great organizational leaders because of their capacity to motivate and demonstrate empathy to their followers. Nevertheless, their outcome-focused approach to doing things compels them to stick to trusted and past proven strategies, hence frustrating innovative thinkers.


People in this leadership action logic demonstrate elevated emotional intelligence levels, just like their counterparts in the achievers’ category. They appreciate and recognize that their leadership style influences other people based on how they interpret different organizational situations. They are flexible to the extent that they can successfully handle diverse occurrences in their respective workplaces. Individualists reflect on their set goals, including how they align with their institutional values (Rook and Torbert 71). Their substantial levels of personal insights make them effective and great communicators who can build strong and positive working relationships. Although individualists stand out as remarkable performers in their administrative centers, they sometimes disregard rules, regulations, processes that are not aligned with their missions and objectives. Such ignorance may fuel conflicts between them and their followers or employees. Hence, such leaders need to consider mechanisms for collaborating with workers to achieve better organizational outcomes.


Strategists play a crucial role in ensuring that an organization responds to future environmental challenges. Indeed, leaders in this action logic are highly effective in steering organizations that wish to implement changes. They are well known for proposing constructive solutions in different trying scenarios. Also, they do not fear organizational conflicts (Rook and Torbert, 71). Rather, they look for ways of addressing them ambitiously and ethically. Similar to individualists, strategists are great communicators. However, on the contrary, leaders in this action logic embrace the idea of sharing visions with other people (Turner 39). As such, they uphold collaboration to attain various desired objectives. Consequently, they are highly effective in change implementation and management.


Alchemists are highly recognized based on their capacity to interact with all people, regardless of their classes within an organization, region, country, or even globally. According to Rook and Torbert, such leaders are “able to renew or even reinvent themselves and their organizations in historically significant ways” (72). Quoting the case of Nelson Mandela, these authors argue that alchemists are rare. In particular, only 1% of all sampled participants consisted of such leaders. Alchemists deal effectively with short-term projects without abandoning long-term agendas. They develop enduring relationships with people of all levels. They also value truth. Alchemists engage teams effectively. Despite being caught up in many activities, they always deliver outstanding results.

Charles Richard Branson: A Global Business Leader

In the international business domain, leaders portray different leadership action logics based on the goals they wish to attain. For example, during her tenure from 2012, before stepping down in 2017, Marissa Mayer treated Yahoo as a think tank rather than a dying horse. Although she unsuccessfully prevented the company’s revenues from falling, Mayer’s success as a team builder and an ardent communicator is evident in the role she played in the early years of Google’s development. Charles Richard Branson, a British entrepreneur and the current CEO of Virgin Group, is yet another successful global leader in the business domain. Indeed, this section discusses Charles Richard Branson’s leadership approaches by considering in detail his traits that are closely related to leadership action logic types discussed previously.

Richard Branson’s Leadership Action Logics

Richard Branson is a globally recognized leader whose input helped to transform Virginia Group into a successful business empire. The company’s areas of operation range from providing airline transport to other service sector businesses, all of which have a global appeal. His outstanding leadership is founded on the awareness that being appreciated as an international leader requires one to have displayed remarkable leadership approaches, which can be used for benchmarking purposes by other organizations (Brown 34). In this regard, Richard Branson stands out as a diplomat who has managed to embrace exceptional motivational skills, which have contributed hugely to boosting the productivity of his Virginia Group’s collection of businesses.

From Branson’s success, it is evident that his leadership strategies can be deployed by organizations that seek to gain substantial growth using employees as their sources of competitive advantage. Richard Branson portrays diplomatic traits such as being an enthusiastic communicator, a charismatic person, and an extroversive leader (Zehir et al. 1366). He is also a good role model admired because of his traits, achievements, and behaviors (Wilson et al. 177). For instance, people across the world commend Branson following his confidence and transformational leadership strategies. As a diplomat, Branson has proved his capacity to care for others while at the same time setting good examples to his followers.

In addition, Branson is a strategist who believes that listening to other people’s ideas and opinions can help to come up with better strategies required to steer organizational success. He believes in the constructive input of his followers. Indeed, Branson appreciates the role of motivation as a strategy that influences his company’s productivity. As a result, he has invested hugely in incentives, training, and reasonable remuneration packages with the view of inspiring his workers to give their best to attain noteworthy organizational results. Branson’s well-calculated empowerment strategies have boosted employees’ willingness to do their jobs with minimal supervision.

As an achiever, Branson has successfully deployed his traits to realize substantial organizational success. This achievement positions him as a charismatic leader. According to Baba, charismatic characters are linked to employees’ openness to embracing change that is necessary for addressing any emerging problems (52). However, Spisak et al. reveal that charismatic leadership traits are not necessarily required, especially during change implementation processes (293). Therefore, despite various achievements made by Branson in effectively leading the Virgin Group, he has also demonstrated some weaknesses associated with achievers. For example, by permitting employees to participate in decision-making processes without putting some bureaucratic checks and limitations, Virgin Group has been exposed to significant risks.

Richard Branson’s approach to business is unique. As such, he demonstrates some levels of characters that are associated with alchemists. In particular, he does not fear to engage in any business or interact with people of all classes and ranks. Consequently, his transformational leadership model lacks aspects of risk management. Although failing to evaluate the risk associated with his expansive business empire has made Branson successful, he should embrace risk management as an important strategy in the evaluation of business decisions (Spisak et al. 294). Nevertheless, as an alchemist, his charisma and situational leadership approaches have made him a respected and successful Briton in the global business world.

Branson’s Empowerment Tactics

Richard Branson strongly believes in empowering others for optimal organizational productivity. He encourages teamwork to ensure that a knowledge-sharing culture can flourish. Virgin Group’s achieved remarkable outcomes when its CEO altered the prevailing counterproductive departmental structures that hindered the proper decision-making process. The aim was to ensure that Virgin Group could benefit from the input of its diverse workforce, especially regarding making resolutions that could enhance the success of the company through creativity and innovation. In addition, Branson also gives employees an opportunity to control most of their daily tasks. He encourages them to engage in cross-communication as a strategy for empowering each other. Recently, he introduced a new policy that gave employees unlimited leave days with the view that they would fulfill their roles in a more objective manner, as opposed to constraining them to ineffective time quotas (Zehir et al. 1365). This transformation demonstrates Branson’s commitment to giving work teams the freedom to make independent decisions that seek to enhance their lines of operations.


Leadership is important in all organizations and social contexts where people are required to actualize some set missions, aims, and objectives. It involves influencing, inspiring, and motivating followers to facilitate the achievement of a given goal. Leaders plan, manage, direct, and guide other people towards attaining mutual organization, national, regional, or even global outcomes. Despite providing seven transformations of leadership, Rook and Torbert give a detailed plan of how leaders can shift from one leadership action logic to another. These authors have documented evidence showing leaders who have transformed from experts to achievers, achievers to individualists, and individualists to strategists, among others. Hence, in a leadership career, one must accept or adopt appropriate strategies and initiatives that enable successive transformations and, consequently, profitable business operations. Richard Branson has been presented as an international business leader who has effectively demonstrated his capacity to lead as a strategist, an achiever, an alchemist, and a diplomat.

Works Cited

Baba, Mubashir. “Emotional Intelligence, Organizational Commitment, and Job Satisfaction: A Study of Higher Learning Institutions.” Amity Global Business Review, vol. 12, no. 2, 2017, pp. 51-60.

Brown, Abram. “Branson the Bold: July 3, 2000.” Forbes, vol. 201, no. 2, 2018, p. 34.

Rook, David, and William Torbert. “Seven Transformations of Leadership.” Harvard Business Review, vol. 83, no. 4, 2005, pp. 66-76.

Spisak, Brian, et al. “Niche Construction and the Evolution of Leadership.” Academy of Management Review, vol. 40, no. 2, 2015, pp. 291-306.

Turner, Susan. “Strategies for Enhancing Small Business Owners’ Success.” International Journal of Applied Management and Technology, vol. 16, no. 1, 2017, pp. 34-49.

Wilson, Lauri, et al. “Evolution of Innovative Roles: The Clinical Nurse Leader.” Journal of Nursing Management, vol. 21, no. 1, 2013, pp. 175-181.

Zehir, Cemal, et al. “Charismatic Leadership and Organizational Citizenship Behavior: The Mediating Role of Ethical Climate.” Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal, vol. 42, no. 8, 2014, pp. 1365-1375.

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