One day, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson received an exciting e-mail from his daughter. She had read a newspaper article talking about a new vacation policy that seemed like just the thing for Virgin. According to this policy, all salaried staff are permitted to take leave whenever they want and for as long as they want. Employees need no prior approval and absolutely no one is keeping track of their holidays. If they feel like taking time off for a day, a week, or even a month, it is up to them to decide—on one condition. They need to be 100 percent sure their absence does not harm their company in any way. As a consequence, they have to be certain that they and their team are up-to-date on every project. Modern technology has radically changed the world and that includes our working day. Since the arrival of smart phones, laptops, and tablets, we actually carry the office around in our briefcases and pockets. We receive job-related e-mails and text messages anytime and anywhere, often expecting and indeed getting a prompt response. Although people might not realize it very much, their work has overtaken their free time and private lives. Thus, it is hard to tell precisely when people do or do not work. With companies no longer able to accurately track people’s time on the job, why track people’s time off the job? It was this point exactly that convinced Richard Branson to introduce the new vacation policy within the Virgin businesses, from entertainment and airline companies to hotels and banking. Other businesses that did the same experience a boost in productivity, creativity,
and morale. Adjusting to new developments and challenging situations seems the right thing to do for leaders who strive to successfully launch their organizations into the future.
12-13. Do you expect Virgin’s new vacation policy to work within all organizations? Why or why not?
12-14. Path-goal theory suggests that leaders adjust their behavior to people’s locus of control. Considering Branson’s new policy, which locus of control does he expect his employees to have? Why?
12-15. Some people might consider Virgin’s policy to be a sign of laissez-faire leadership. Do you agree? Why or why not?
Sources: R. Branson, The Virgin Way: How to Listen, Learn, Laugh and Lead (Virgin Books, 2014);
P. Hersey and K.H. Blanchard, So You Want to Know Your Leadership Style? Training and Development Journal 28, no. 2 (1974): 22–37; J. Mesu, K. Sanders, and M. Van Riemsdijk, “Transformational Leadership and Organisational Commitment in Manufacturing and Service Small to Medium-Sized Enterprises: The Moderating Effects of Directive and Participative Leadership,”
Personnel Review 44, no. 6 (2015): 970–90; R.J. House, “A Path-Goal Theory of Leader Effectiveness,” Administrative Science Quarterly 16, no. 3 (1971): 321–39; R.J. House, “Path-Goal Theory of Leadership: Lessons, Legacy, and a Reformulated Theory,” Leadership Quarterly (Fall 1996): 353; B.M. Bass and R.E. Riggio, Transformational Leadership. Mahwah (New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2006).