Sir Richard Branson has been a leadership hero to me for many years. His pragmatic and passionate approach to business and his true recognition of the importance of people towards its success, has always inspired me. By the way, if you haven't yet read his book - Losing My Virginity, I urge you to do so and challenge you not to be inspired too.
The key takeaways from Richard's success as a leader for me are:
Empowering - enabling people to reach for the top and helping them get there with encouragement and motivation and physically demonstrating belief in their capability.
Passionate - In everything he does, he does it with passion and vigor. If he decides to do something he's 'all in'. Nothing is half bait.
Challenging - Pushing himself to achieve more and more. Not in the monetary sense but in the venture and adventure sense.
Risk Taking - 'Screw it let's do it' is one of his infamous lines. When in doubt, he has a go and if it doesn't work out, he looks at why and adjusts accordingly.
Humorous - A brilliant sense of humour and not taking himself too seriously. A perpetual 'smiler' and which is contagious when people are with him.
Respectful - Respecting that employees have something to say and want to be heard. Putting employees first, listening to AND hearing them, seeking their feedback on what's working and what isn't' then most importantly, acting on that feedback.
Optimistic - Always in a 'can do' frame of mind as opposed to coming from a place of 'ah but'. So refreshing.