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Turn your business around

At the beginning of Virgin Airlines, Richard Branson, the CEO, used to go into the cabin and ask the crew, "How would you improve the service? What do the passengers say? What do you think?" Listening is Branson's first leadership principle.

Think about it: The typical organization communicates from top to bottom. Leaders make decisions and give orders to staff. Then, the staff serves customers the way they're told. If it doesn't work, leaders realize it a year later, when the financial results come in.

Richard Branson does exactly the opposite. Staff and customers carry information and opinions from the bottom up. The role of leadership is to make sense of all those inputs and make decisions based on your staff and your customers. Staff and customers feel empowered, change is adopted in record time, staff loyalty skyrockets and customers are happy. The financial results at the end of the year are undoubtedly better.

Easy, isn't it? So why don't leaders use this approach anymore? Out of fear. Most managers are afraid to relinquish power. That's a normal reaction, but it costs millions, because managers don't have all the information. The staff and their customers are the ones who have it.

What kind of organization do you work in? Top-down or Bottom-up?

Do you need to change your leadership style? Write to me.

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