Friday, 4 December 2009

Come Fly With Me!

As an Irish person, it is an ingrained part of our psyche that we love and admire all things Irish. I was listening to a programme covering the varying virtues of Virgin and British Airways and I was wondering why, whenever the name Ryanair came up, I cringed. Now the respective leaders of these businesses are from very different schools of style. Virgin’s Richard Branson is entrepreneurial and likeable. BA’s Willie Walsh is corporate and slick. Michael O’Leary is aggressive and in your face. The most successful among them is Ryanair’s O’Leary who has built a formidable reputation and a very successful business. My question to myself is why do I not love and admire a true Irish success story?

When you compare the O’Leary business leadership and his defence of his business model, and his outright aggression to all those who dare to question him, you have to ask why his business is so successful , when all his competitors are slashing costs, trying to mimic his model. Could O’Leary be the role model for the new leadership model that we need to build to take businesses forward in the new world we face? Compare O’Leary, aggressive, in your face, does not give a damn about what you think, low cost service advocator, get them on, get them off, do it my way or else, to a Walsh who is corporate, correct, slick, polished, to a Branson, who is likeable, charming, all about the human touch. Which one would you like to work for? Which company would you like to work for?

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