Virgin’s Leadership Series: Episode 2/5

When Virgin Atlantic brought in Sir Richard Branson it was to challenge the status quo. Leadership is complex so it’s important to focus ourselves and prepare for action. How many of us have experience genuinely powerful leadership? Ask a different question… How many of us are faced with lukewarm to poor leadership every day? Right. So we definitely needed a step up and we needed to find ideas from all over.

Creating Purpose

Working in any company of any size, the general idea is that everyone wants growth. We all go through our lives working hard with the idea that we are supposed to take whatever we have and make it better. One step at a time we chip away at inefficiencies and try to make customers happier but how many of us really understand the purpose of our work? This leads us to the next question… How many directors know what the purpose of their work is… And of those directors how many of them are communicating the company’s purpose effectively?


Alex Tai, Team Principal of the Virgin Racing Formula E Team, worked the idea of purpose and how critical it is to all business. The truth is that all companies under the Virgin Brand have one common purpose and that is: Changing Business For Good.

As much as all of the directors of the individual companies are held accountable for their work, the are also tested and measured on how well their business is making the right changes for good. There has to be a long-term vision to what everyone is doing. Everyone on your team must know what that purpose is and above and beyond that everyone should know what everyone else is achieving for that same purpose. Everyone needs to know what the point is, what the end-game is… What their purpose is.


Tai’s purpose with the DS Virgin Formula-e team is to create good in the world and the production chain works like this:

  • We can produce solar-energy at half the price of fossil-fuel energy today. Better than that, the loss in moving electricity across the Atlantic from Africa is 1%. This means we already have the technology we need to start moving our dependence away from fossil-fuels.
  • Race competitions force designers and engineers to research ways to make their cars more efficient be it lighter, faster, smoother, more agile and even safer. The DS Virgin team’s technologies made it into Renault’s commercial cars after their second season. Their work is transferable to market. So if this carries through effectively we can reduce the number of petrol cars on the road by 77million… Saving 900 million barrels of oil.
  • The awareness of electric vehicles is also critical and by holding the Formula-e seasons in the centre of cities the exposure is gigantic. Message: delivered. 180 cities want to hold Formula-e races in them. Think about the reach of the Virgin message that electric cars are coming soon.

When all of this coverage spread through the media channels the one thing that kept coming up was Virgin’s purpose: changing the business of racing for good.

Virgin Atlantic have created a website with more informational tools, tutorials and videos. They have a list of people that they email every time they publish new leadership information. Go to and register for yourself. It’s perfect.

Virgin Racing exists to be at the heart of change in the world automotive industry.

  1. Leadership requires purpose. Long-term purpose.
  2. Driving innovation requires clear goal setting.
  3. You have to be able to listen to big personalities. Remember you are there to encourage the skill-sets of even the hardest team-members. Don’t micro-manage them… Set purpose and clear goals and let them innovate and get there by themselves… What they need is your encouragement.

Chapter 1

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5