It was a real honour to be knighted in 1999, and while I am proud to have Sir before my name, I much prefer people to call me Richard. In fact, whenever I hear Sir Richard, I feel like I have wandered into a Shakespearean play!
I am perfectly happy to be addressed by my first name. On a leadership basis, I believe that people should try to get rid of any practices that reinforce hierarchies. Why should a CEO be addressed as "Mr Bloggs" if a receptionist is simply addressed as "Joe"? They should be treated exactly the same.
There are some people who insist on using their titles, and because of this they can't develop human relationships with people in the same way. If you put yourself on a pedestal, you are asking to be knocked off. At the end of the day we are all humans. I can guarantee you that snooty Lord or Lady So-And-So still has to go to the loo just like everybody else!
Let's do away with the formalities and get down to business. If people got rid of unnecessary hierarchies and formalities, they would have a lot more fun and get a lot more done.
And let’s not don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk. Drop the dress code and get comfortable. At Virgin Management we encourage our team members to wear clothing that they think will help them to work most productively and enjoy their day. You won’t find a tie or suit jacket in our London office – it’s an antiquated tradition that very few people enjoy.
And what better way to walk the walk than dance? It goes a long way to tearing down any semblance of hierarchy when you’ve seen your company’s CFO showing off his moves at a company party, or even better, doing the limbo with a bottle of beer in her hand!
Do you have a tip for getting rid of hierarchy? I’d like to hear about it in the comments below.