What Does Boris Johnson and Richard Branson Have in Common?

Boris Johnson showing his Ray O'Sunshine

Both have a strong Ray O’Sunshine behavioural preference

I have been absolutely fascinated reading, watching and listening to various media reports over the past few days, as the Boris resignation story unfolded. It’s not so much the politics which have fascinated me but the way in which behavioural preferences have played out.

You don’t have to look too hard to realise that Boris has a strong Ray O’Sunshine (Yellow) behavioural preference: he dreamed big, in fact so big, that at the age of eight he declared that he wanted to be “World King”, whilst at Eton, he realised that playing the prankster, could get him noticed and get him a life in the spotlight. Whilst being able to dream big, breaking away from convention, doing things differently, having charisma and being able to carry people along in your enthusiasm and not taking life too seriously, always believing there is a way out of any situation, can be great strengths to have, but unfortunately, when those strengths are played in the wrong situation at the wrong time, they can be perceived in a very different manner.

  • The entertainer becomes a fool
  • The breaking with convention may become the rule breaker
  • The capacity for big picture future thinking may be perceived as not having a grip on the details and important things happening today, to you and me.
Richard Branson

But things could have been very different for Boris, not all Ray O’Sunshine leaders are perceived in this way. If we think for a moment about Sir Richard Branson, again he has a very strong Ray O’Sunshine behavioural preference and yes most people know him as a visionary, he dreams big, looks to the future, breaks with convention and like Boris he also likes to play the prankster. Yet he is an extremely successful entrepreneur and businessman.


What lessons can we all learn from Sir Richard Branson?

Why is he not thought of as a liar and a fool?

The one big differentiator is that from a very early age, Richard Branson realised the importance of having high levels of self-awareness. In the early days of his career, he discovered that he was an ideas person, he had the vision and the passion, and he could enthuse people to get on board with his ideas and sell the dream. However he also realised that he was not a detail person, his strength did not lie in facts, detail, administration and organisation, but rather than forge on, ignoring his weaknesses and allowing his ego to convince him he was invincible, he acknowledged and faced his weaknesses and then surrounded himself with a team of people who had all of the skills and strengths he was not so great at.



There is no such thing as an ideal leadership behavioural preference, great leaders are as diverse as the population, but the one thing which is true of all great leaders is they are self-aware, they know their strengths but they also recognise their blindspots, they recognise and value the strengths and skills of others and are not afraid to ask for help, surrounding themselves with a diverse team of people.


Yellow, Red, Green Blue Preferenced people

Great leaders have higher levels of emotional intelligence

Great leaders also have higher levels of emotional intelligence, they acknowledge that other people may have different thoughts and perspectives, and demonstrate understanding and compassion for them, they ask for and encourage conflicting opinions and hear what the people around them are saying and take appropriate action.

Great leaders know how to navigate around their behavioural map, adapting their behaviour and style of communication to the situation, they don’t have a one-style approach or my way is the only way attitude, they admit when they are wrong and appreciate that without the trust and respect of their team, they would not be regarded as a successful leader in the long-term.

So putting politics aside, is Boris really an untrustworthy liar or is he a misunderstood, Ray O’Sunshine lacking in self-awareness and emotional intelligence?

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