Virgin Group CEO, Richard Branson has one thing in common with the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs - he’s a billionaire. Take that away and you have the total opposite, and he admits that with pride.
In an interview for his blog, Branson said: “I admired Steve Jobs, although he was completely different from me. He used to shout at employees that made mistakes. He did not delegate much, and broke all the rules I believe in. Somehow it worked for him. Apple is one the best brands in the world.”
But why would Branson go and say something like that? Is it maybe because now that Steve Jobs is gone he’s not afraid of ever answering for his words at some dinner party where Jobs would be present?
No. Branson is really speaking out of his heart here, even though he may fail to acknowledge a few important aspects.
“I devote most of my time to activities like The Elders [A South-African NGO], but I make it a point to take care of things that are important to Virgin, like hiring its key executives,” he said.
Speaking of his own modus operandi, he said: “I interviewed Josh Bayliss, the Group’s CEO, in the back seat of my car while waiting in a traffic jam that lasted almost two hours. Now, he makes money so I can spend it. Learning to delegate is vital in business. You have to be willing to let people do good things and let make them mistakes…”
Branson also made an important remark about criticizing people and how it affects them. He said, “I think that criticizing people is counter-productive. A good leader is someone who praises a person for his or her best efforts, not someone who criticizes.”
Well, you can bet that if Steve Jobs patted everyone on the shoulder Apple would have produced mediocre music players, phones, computers, and sub-par software.
People tend to rest on their laurels, and a boss who does the same will end up with a bunch of egocentric slack-offs who come to work every day thinking “I just got a raise, which probably means I’ll only need to work hard when I hear a fist hit the table”.
Jobs demanded perfection, and you can’t ask for perfection with a mild tone of voice. You just can’t. Not in this world.