Billionaire Richard Branson: Steve Jobs Broke All The Rules I Believe In

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Branson in 2010 at a NYC event. (Photo by david_shankbone - http://flic.kr/p/7ZWvcn)
Branson in 2010 at a NYC event. (Photo by david_shankbone - http://flic.kr/p/7ZWvcn)

Don’t you go all warm when a billionaire able to pal around with lions and tigers jumps all over how Steve Jobs led Apple? Seems Richard Branson would roll differently as Apple CEO. No yelling at employees or being such a control freak. Yep, the Virgin Group CEO would create a kindler, gentler Apple right from the pages of “I’m OK, You’re OK.”


In an interview for his blog, Branson said he liked Jobs, but not how he treated Apple employees.

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.

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. 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…

Yes, Jobs was often seen as a bully by both his Cupertino, Calif. employees and his business partners, but there was more to his management style than that, which Branson ignores. Branson says he delegates responsibility and allows workers to make mistakes. All good and fine, that’s what being different means.

But then Branson says this: “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.” So why criticize Jobs’s management style? Particularly someone who just recently died?

What do you think? Is Branson talking out of turn here?