3 Things I Learned from Richard Branson – The Power of Collaboration

When I was invited to dinner with Richard Branson and a few others, I really did not know what to expect. For one, I did not expect to have enough time to truly engage with the legend, but he was so down to earth. He was not full of himself, and he truly is what he appears to be.

We’ve all heard the amazing stories of Mavericks that go it alone. When we hear about people like Steve Jobs and Richard Branson, or Bill Gates, we think, What a genius! We illuminate the myth of the college dropout. We think they did it alone.

Tammy Kling with Sir Richard Branson

But the truth is, no Maverick has ever built anything alone. True leaders understand the power of collaboration.

Richard Branson taught me 3 key things:

1. Listen and observe.

Richard Branson Tammy Kling listen observe

If you’re in the company of Richard, you’ll see that he’s not talking all the time. He’s a guy that lets other people shine. This is one of the traits of successful leaders. He’s never dominant.

2. Be emotionally intelligent.

Richard Branson Tammy Kling emotionally intelligent

The ability to judge a room and understand where everyone else stands is a key trait of a successful leader. Richard has the ability to observe, analyze, and understand the heart of every individual in the room.

3. Communicate.


Branson is a dynamic communicator. Always ready to communicate with clarity, he’s a perfect example of a leader who communicates authentically and has fun.

The traits that Branson shared with me can help us all become more relaxed, fun and authentic in our collaborations. Every organization faces the same challenges: recruit, reward, retain. In every challenge, the power of collaboration works to elevate the individual within the team.

How do we recruit great people, collaborate, and build a culture that makes them feel as if it’s a place they want to stay? The answer is the power of peers.

Harvard Researcher Pedro De Abreu is a brain and behavior expert whose work surrounds the power of collaboration. As a millennial engaged in incredible new brain research, he’s on the cutting edge of corporate change.

“Collaboration is the key to the future,” he says.

What happens when you build a culture centered on contribution? Every voice matters. Every contribution counts.

Peers are instrumental when it comes to recruitment and retention; but, what about rewards? “Rewards have to be on the personal level,” says Ronnie Brannen, President of PowerSecure.

This isn’t just a factor of material rewards, or ping pong tables in the break room – or even about building a great culture. Above all else, it’s about personal legacy. It’s about recognizing people for their unique contribution, by focusing on creating real leaders, which in turn creates a company of accountable owners.

Once people understand their own power and leadership gifts – they perform at a different level. Imagine what a company of leaders successfully collaborating can do. Together, we can accomplish much more than we ever could on our own.

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