Leadership Lessons Begin at Home

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On February 6, 2015, Posted by , In Richard Branson, With No Comments

Excerpt from the chapter ‘Old Blocks and Young Chips: Leadership Lessons Begin at Home’ in The Virgin Way by Richard Branson


Sometimes the greatest leadership lessons can come from the most unexpected places. Some elements of leadership are almost certainly genetic and there is no escaping the fact that we are all products of our upbringing and our environment. As the saying goes, ‘An apple never falls far from the tree that bore it’. Well, as anyone who knows my mother Eve or my late father Ted will testify, I am certainly no exception to the rule.

They encouraged me to always look for the good in people instead of assuming the worst and trying to find fault. If they ever heard me gossiping or taking someone down they would have me go and look at myself in a mirror for five minutes, the idea being that I should see how such behavior reflected badly on me. I was also taught that fits of pique or any outward displays of anger or rudeness never serve any useful purpose and if anything play only to your disadvantage. It was a lesson that stuck, and to this day I frequently have people say things to me like ‘I really don’t know how you could be so pleasant with those people’ or ‘If I were you I’d have been really angry about what they just did’, when in fact I had just bottled up my emotions. The thing my parents didn’t make any effort to teach me was how to keep my obvious delight at something under wraps, the downside of which is that it doesn’t help me keep my poker game very much.

Want to read more about Richard Branson’s views on leadership? Check out ‘The Virgin Way’ and his other publications in the College CFO Bookstore.

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