Leadership Style of Sir Richard Branson

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IT IS VERY COMMON to hear that government would run better if it were more businesslike. I think that is correct. Nevertheless, I will turn the tables on that proposition. I believe that business would benefit from learning some management lessons from a surprisingly gifted governmental executive--Ronald Reagan.

Those of us who had the good fortune of working for President Reagan witnessed firsthand the effective management style of an unusually successful chief executive. Here are 10 lessons that I learned from observing him in action.

Lesson 1: Set Clear and Attainable Objectives, albeit Goals that Seem Difficult to Achieve. In early 1981, President Reagan set his sights on a healthier economy with lower inflation
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I 'll give you a very personal example. In a public presentation describing the budget problems facing the United States, I had the temerity to suggest that annual Social Security benefit increases (the so-called cost-of-living adjustments, or COLAs) were not part of an insurance program. They were really welfare benefits paid by someone else, in this case the working population. Some member of the Congress was so angry with me that he urged my impeachment. I was very relaxed. The odds were that, if the issue ever did reach the president, he would just have a good laugh. Of course, the threat of my impeachment quickly evaporated.

Lesson 5: Use Humor to Good Effect. Yes, Ronald Reagan loved to tell funny stories. One of his favorite ones concerned the boy who was digging through a manure pile. His explanation for that strange action was that there had to be a pony in it somewhere.

But usually the president 's purpose for telling a humorous tale was very serious. He was always too polite to tell some boring person to shut up. Rather, he preferred to interrupt by telling a story. When he finished, the discussion would quickly shift to a new subject.

On other occasions, when the internal debate was in danger of getting too strident, he would break the tension by telling another funny story. He possessed a deep inventory of humor, much of which drew upon his authentic Irish brogue as well as a fine Italian accent.

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