How to be a great leader
We asked the brightest minds in business how they do what they do and how you can cash in on their advice in the year ahead.
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Richard Branson
Richard Branson
Founder and Chairman, Virgin Group
Learn How to Say No (Even if You're Known as "Dr. Yes")
I turn people down with extreme difficulty sometimes, because the people I'm saying no to are people I don't want to discourage. And it should be difficult. Saying no shouldn't be an easy thing to do, and you have to be good at it. I often used to dodge doing it myself, and hide behind other people and delegate it, but if you're the boss, that isn't the right thing to do.

I remember when I was a 15-year-old asking Vanessa Redgrave or James Baldwin for an interview, and the fact that they took the time to respond meant an enormous amount to me. It inspired me. So it's extremely important to respond to people, and to give them encouragement if you're a leader. And if you're actually turning people down, if you must say no, whether it's for a job or a promotion or an idea they're proposing to you, take the time to do it yourself.

I met two big San Francisco entrepreneurs recently, and they said they get e-mail like this too, but they just dump it all in the dustbin. They don't try to answer at all. I asked them why, and they said, "The time we spend responding could be used to create something of value for our business." That may well be pragmatically right, but I still think it's morally wrong, and I suspect that anything that is morally wrong is ultimately bad for business.
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Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.