The Situational Leadership Model

Sir Richard Branson, Chairman, Virgin Group, Ltd. Case Study


The Situational leadership model was invented by Blanchard and Hersey in the year 1960. The model states that the leadership style that one adopts is determined by the situation. According to the model, it is important for a leader to understand the situation in his company before choosing the appropriate leadership style. On the other hand, Vroom Jago leadership model is a decision making model that allows a leader to analyze a situation and determine which style of leadership to adopt. The model focuses on how victorious leadership materializes and progresses (Slocum & Hellriegel, 2007).

Theory X and Theory Y models signify two sets of postulations regarding human nature and behavior that are relevant in leadership. Theory X symbolizes a pessimistic view of human nature that presumes that people generally tend to avert from work and need close supervision to perform their duties. Theory Y represents an optimistic view of the nature of human beings. It assumes that people are generally hard working, resourceful and are capable of assuming accountability in their duties.

Sir Richard Branson is a commercial Entrepreneur and his famous for his “Virgin Group” which is composed of more than 400 corporations. He is among the most captivating, victorious and enduring business leaders in the world. As the initiator of the Virgin Corporation, he has developed a fascinating background and attitude towards leadership. He is an activist in serial entrepreneurship and has a fascinating and exhilarating leadership style (Slocum & Hellriegel, 2007).


Describe Branson’s leadership style in terms of the leadership models addressed in Chapters 10 and 11

Research shows that “leadership involves influence; it occurs among people who intentionally desire significant changes, and the changes reflect purposes shared by leaders and followers (Donis, 2010). Branson’s leadership model shows that he used his talents and abilities to create a common goal among his employees. His key values and beliefs involved assisting people to attain things which they did not think they were able to achieve as well as helping them to succeed.

It appears that Branson’s history is composed of various leadership styles. However, Branson only focused on one leadership model, that is, situational leadership model. By looking at the development of the Virgin realm and the model of leadership adopted by its CEO, trends such as survival through hardships and incredible self confidence and determination to thrive emerge.

Applying the model of situational leadership to Richard Branson, there are instances where he changes his leadership style and approaches based on the situation. It is definitely clear that Branson becomes who he wants to be depending on the situation. He is flexible especially on how he relates with the public, his employees and stakeholders. This is influenced by his “goal focused approach” to victory and expanding his business. Therefore, it appears that although individuality and behaviors may be core, it is the situation and wants of the business that appear to be more rampant drivers of activities in the case of Branson’s leadership style.

Another example of Branson’s Situational leadership model is seen in his use of tactful skills, a characteristic that would not have been a key feature of his individuality. The situation, however, required that Branson adopt good leadership techniques to achieve his objectives. A major area of victory for Branson was when he chose his top management panel, something he was ready to change with the changing situation and wants of the company. He realized the need for a team that would balance his personal strengths and weaknesses at a time when the company needed the group’s assistance.

It is the transformational leadership style that in my opinion summarizes the leadership style deployed by this renowned commercial entrepreneur. Transformational leaders can easily adapt to change. Branson demonstrated his flexibility and victory in adjusting to changing company cultures as he established new businesses and developed new sectors for his businesses. Virgin is a company that is focused on continual development and change and this makes the transformational leadership style more appropriate for the company. A good example of how Branson demonstrated his transformational leadership style is when he gave workers in his airline his personal contacts and encouraged them to contribute in giving their ideas concerning the expansion of the industry.

Evaluate the likely effectiveness of Branson’s leadership style in the U.S. today

Richard Branson’s leadership style, that is, transformational leadership style, has gained attention in the U.S as a new model for comprehending leadership.

If this style is adopted in the U.S, leaders would see the need for change in the nation, establish visualization for the future and mobilize citizen commitment in attaining results beyond what is anticipated by the nation. Research shows that transformational leadership is likely to lead to leadership effectiveness in the U.S.

Transformational leadership is optimistically related to effectiveness without considering culture. Since U.S has minimal conventional cultural values, then there is a strong connection between transformational leadership style and leadership effectiveness. Branson’s leadership style is likely to make leaders to be able to entertain the citizens as well as play the role of a spokesman for the nation.

Recommend a different leadership style (or combination of styles) that would make Branson an even more effective leader

Participative/democratic leadership style would make Sir Richard Branson a more effective leader. This is because the leadership style would encourage his employees to take part and give their ideas on business matters. By adopting participative leadership, the final decisions of the company would be made by Branson but this would be only after valuing and respecting employee ideas.

Charismatic leadership style would also make Sir Richard Branson a more effective leader. The style would make him efficient in inspiring his employees though it would make the employees to be reliant on him.

It should be noted that there is no leadership style which can be termed as the best. Research shows that “for one to be the best leader, he must be a flexible leader” (Gallo, 2011). An effective leader should be capable of getting the best from his employees and training them on how to be effective leaders by themselves. Research further states that “whenever the leadership style that you choose suits the circumstances, you are being a good leader” (Slocum & Hellriegel, 2007). To be effective, a leader must know and be able to apply distinct and effective leadership models based on the situation.

Determine how Branson would develop and lead a global team working on a major project (e.g., space tourism)

For Branson to develop and lead a global team working on a major project, he would need to establish and develop mutual objectives, interdependence, confidence, dedication and responsibility among team members. To develop the team, Branson would need to hire employees in a manner that improves the current labor force. He would need to employ workers who would be of long term benefit to the company. For Branson, support from employees would be important for projects to be successfully completed. Since employee respect cannot be assigned in the same way like duties, attaining and implementing project security would demand vigilant and skilled execution from Branson.

When global teams come together, disagreements are almost inexorable. Since conflicts are capable of interfering with team spirit and endangering the team’s major objectives, Branson would need to properly identify, evaluate and manage the conflicts. The best way that Branson would manage such disagreements is ensuring that people involved in the disagreement are the ones building up the solution.

For Branson to effectively lead the global team, he would be required to create sustainable associations so as to develop a good working environment. This would also involve guarantors, steering groups, contractors, benefactors and internal colleagues of the project. Branson in this case would need to associate with different persons so as to acquire relevant information, input and dedication.

For the project to be successful, Branson would be required to know how to deal with tough conversations. This would be achieved by organizing meetings with shareholders who are have no direct control over the project but are vital to the success of the project. It should be noted that successful implementation of a project is totally dependent on the team members.

Discuss how you can incorporate some of Branson’s leadership qualities into you role at work or school

When defining effective leadership and management techniques, Sir Richard Branson states, “You can’t be a good leader if you don’t genuinely like people” (Watkins, 2005). I can incorporate some of Richard Branson’s leadership qualities into my role in the workplace by being humble and sociable. Research shows that a leader is a figurehead for his or her company, entertaining customers and playing the role of a spokesperson for the company. Branson is in all ways a figurehead for Virgin and possibly even more significant than the brand itself. This is a usual act of any leader and I can incorporate this into my work place by being courageous enough especially when dealing with my team members.

I would also incorporate Branson’s leadership style into my role in the workplace by being a passionate leader. Research shows that passion is vital for a task to be successful. Another leadership quality demonstrated by Branson that I would incorporate into my role in the workplace is courage, which stands for taking perils and initiatives. His readiness to take risks especially in the project “Space tourism” depicts his courageous qualities. Branson is an effective risk manager and is good at sharing risks with shareholders.

Another leadership quality of Branson that I would incorporate into my role in the work place is knowing the kind of business that am carrying out and the level of competition that my organization is facing. Sir Richard Branson is quite knowledgeable about the commercial activities which he operates. In an interview, Branson talks of getting rid of “the spoke and hub approach” as seen in many airline industries (Donis, 2010).

The most important leadership quality of Branson that I would incorporate into my role in the work place is creativity. His business undertakings depict originality. A good example is shown through his venturing into the airline industry using innovative techniques such as “touch-screen ordering of food and comfortable planes” (Slocum & Hellriegel, 2007). Another fascinating leadership quality of Branson that I would incorporate into my role in the work place is having insight into different contexts. Richard Branson has insight into different contexts with his venture into space tourism being a good example of this leadership characteristic.


Donis, J. (2010). Richard Branson’s leadership tips. Web.

Gallo, C. (2011). Richard Branson: The One Skill Leaders Need to Learn. Web.

Slocum, W., & Hellriegel, D. (2007). Organizational behavior. Mason, Ohio: Thomson/South-Western.

Watkins, D. (2005). Situational Leadership Model. Web.

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