By Usha Maharaj CA(SA) | Executive and Leadership Development Coach, Passionate about women empowerment and human potential
Never accept the unacceptable … Once we all start to look not only inward but outward at the things that are not acceptable in the world, we will find ourselves (and much more) in the good that we do for each other − Richard Branson
If I had to list my favourite leaders in the world, Sir Richard Branson will surely feature. Not only for his visionary thoughts, his daredevil spirit or entrepreneurial prowess but for his commitment to throwing out the rule book and running his businesses and life on his unique terms. Branson’s book Screw business as usual was gifted to me as I left corporate and ventured into the entrepreneurial world myself, and this book most certainly left an imprint in my mind as I steered myself toward living and doing business in a way that is good for more than just myself. I’m sharing a few extracts of his book in the hope that it would stimulate new questions for you and lead you toward decisions and actions that positively impact more people on our planet.
Branson continues: ‘Over the last few decades as I’ve started up one exciting business after another, I have often thought that life and work could not get any better. In writing this book, however, I’ve come to realise that we’ve really been on a dummy run, preparing ourselves for the greatest challenge and opportunity of our lifetime.’ Branson could never have imagined that less than a decade after first publishing his book, all the people in all the world would be navigating the greatest global challenge of a lifetime. More recently and closer to home, we have witnessed the chaos and upheaval, fast-tracked by this great challenge. As leaders in business, without looking outside for solutions, how do we rally together to create opportunities not just for ourselves but for all of our people? Running businesses and leading people only toward selfish gains is no longer good enough.
‘We have a chance to take a shot at really working together, to turn upside down the way we approach the challenges we are facing in the world and to look at them in a brand new, entrepreneurial way … Never has there been a more exciting time for all of us to explore this next great frontier where the boundaries between work and higher purpose are merging into one, where doing good really is good for business … amidst all of today’s new jargon, the message is actually pretty simple: just do what’s right for people and the planet in everything you do.’ Good leadership is about increasing in impact, not because it looks good on annual reports or in marketing videos, but because it is the right thing to do. And as Branson advocates, ‘doing good is good for business’, profit and purpose can and should coexist.
We have been fortunate that through some of the worst times in recent history we have had the opportunity to witness some of the best responses by people. However, doing good should not be a knee-jerk response to something bad. Rather, in business and in leadership, we should be doing good as the norm. In Richard Branson’s words, “Never accept the unacceptable…once we all start to look not only inward, but outward at the things that are not acceptable in the world, we will find ourselves (and much more) in the good that we do for each other.”