3 traits billionaire Richard Branson looks for when promoting employees

Sir Richard Branson speaking at the Innovation Summit in Brooklyn, New York on July 14, 2017.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Self-made billionaire Richard Branson constantly looks for new talent to promote, especially within his Virgin Group company. So how does one get on Branson's radar? Three traits that the entrepreneur looks for in his employees include being personable, detail-oriented and hardworking.

In his latest autobiography, "Finding my Virginity," the entrepreneur tells the story of how he founded the fastest growing Virgin company of all time: Virgin Australia, formerly Virgin Blue, which is Australia's second largest airline.

Branson explains that the idea was created by Brett Godfrey, who at the time was chief financial officer for their European carrier, Virgin Express. Branson says that he quickly took a liking to Godfrey. Why? Because Godfrey was a "great example" of the type of talent Branson liked to find, encourage, challenge and help grow within the company, he says.

The businessman first spotted Godfrey's potential when he wrote an "excellent note" to a group of new hires and he began to closely follow Godfrey's progress, Branson writes. He also noticed how amiably Godfrey interacted with others. "[I] saw how he dealt with people in a personable manner and got the best out of them," writes Branson.

Godfrey also paid attention to the company's specific needs, according to the founder. "He was someone who understood the little details of the airline industry that make all the difference," Branson explains.

But most importantly, says the Virgin founder, Godfrey wasn't afraid to work hard and get his hands dirty. "He knew management had to be accessible and visible, so would often get out and about, even rolling his sleeves up with baggage handlers to heave bags and hear their issues from the frontline," the billionaire recalls.

Branson was so impressed by Godfrey that when a CEO position was made available at Virgin Express, Branson immediately knew who he would choose to fill the role.

But surprisingly, says Branson, Godfrey turned down the position. The CFO explained that he was actually planning on moving back to his home country of Australia with his wife and two kids.

Though Branson was disappointed, he accepted Godfrey 's reasoning to put his family first. Before ending the phone call, Branson said, "If you want to do anything in Australia, let me know and we'll see what we can do."

Godfrey did. The Virgin employee began to tell Branson about his idea for a low-cost airline in Australia.

After listening to him speak for a bit, Branson told Godfrey to shoot over a more detailed plan for what would soon become Virgin Australia (and which Godfrey spearheaded as CEO until 2010).

"Brett's plan was delivered to my door the next morning," writes Branson. "I've always liked people who move fast, too."

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