Her story with Avon -- she joined the company 20 years ago. It was started in 1886! The owner sold perfume with his encyclopedias...no one wanted the books, but they did want to buy the perfume. He started a company that stood for female empowerment -- he hired women to sell outside of their homes. They were given the right to own and run their own businesses -- 35 years before they were given the right to vote.
40,000 employees globally. 6 million Avon reps globally -- in Brazil there were 1.2 million reps! Not employees, but independent contractors. How does Avon motivate them and inspire them?
Vision and Values must be a global language.
They must be clear, simple, and globally embraceable. Avon's founding vision was pretty clear. "The company for women." -- 1998 they simplified their mission and vision. Four simple words - translatable and understood. To create a unifying language.
In any Avon conference room, you see this tagline. They had a song that was translated into 15 languages. A source of global unity and global pride.
Have a clear set of values that everyone lives by. Trust, respect, belief, humility, integrity. Five leadership values that every one every where was expected to live by.
Needed to set that tone right from the top. In every new employee training session, in every employee rally -- every single leader was expected to teach and share the vision and those five values.
It's all about influence.
Leadership is ALWAYS about the people. Understanding what motivates them; how to influence them; how to inspire them.
Influence is very different than power. Power = I'm your boss, do what I say. Influence = very different. The difference between managing and leading.
The emphasis on developing people and communicating with people.
Technology is an equalizer.
Key to employee motivation is COMMUNICATION. "Hypercommunication." Relentless sharing of the message. In the good times and the tough.
Authentic leadership doesn't shy away from the tough discussions. She traveled globally to talk with people face-to-face -- rather than using technology to communicate -- when they restructured the company.
Reinvention is the key.
What has made you successful to-date, may not be what keeps you successful going forward. CHANGE. You may need to fix the roof when the sun is shining. Have a constant turnaround mentality, even when business is thriving. Every cycle requires reinvention -- and these cycles get faster and faster these days.
You need to commit to personal reinvention. Never get complacent. Keep looking at your org with fresh eyes.
Change is constant.
Go home on a Friday evening. Come back on Monday as if it's a brand new job. Reinvention comes with a big dose of humility.
The boldest moves come from a commitment to constant reinvention.
Never stop innovating.
Innovation is a global equalizer. (She's on the board of Apple, Mercedes, GE (?) )
Innovation isn't always about product. It's about people, processes.
Talent Development is the number one, two and three priority. Talent Development starts at the top. The CEO and the leaders - this is their job. The CEO is the CTO - chief talent officer.
Technology is an enabler. But there are even more disruptive things coming.
Women are the fastest growing emerging market.
It's not a country, it's women.
Women as entrepreneurs, customers. There is now way to win at a global level without including women as part of leadership.
US Stats: women are 51% of the population, 60% undergraduate degrees, 48% medical degrees. 59% of the college educated workforce are women. They hold 52% of the professional jobs.
But women lag in leadership roles.
When she became the CEO in 1999 there were only 3 female CEOs in fortune 1,000s - that rounded down to 0%. Today it's 15%. The glass ceiling has not shattered, but there are big cracks.
Equal representation is important. It's about balanced collaboration. A board of all women is not what we're going for.
Women who are qualified to be leaders of large corporations and governments -- when you look down to entrepreneurship...women who own small businesses are growing fast.
The more women leaders you have, the more women you employ, the more they pay the women. They give better health care.
Do good. It's as important as doing well.
(Jim Collins, Good to Great) -- it's impossible to have a great life without meaning.
Contributing to great social good is hallmark of future leaders and future success.
Personal lessons she learned along the way:
- It's about purpose, not power.
- Follow your compass, not your clock -- make those big decisions about your life from your heart and not your head (she was passed over for Avon CEO -- within two weeks was offered two other CEO jobs. But she stayed because she loved Avon. Two years later, she became Avon CEO. It was about purpose, not power).
- Persevere. Never give up. "Bloom where you're planted." You will learn as much from a job you don't like or a boss that you hate...
- Fail forward. You are going to make mistakes. Make the same mistake twice, big problem. Make the mistake and learn from it? Some of the biggest mistakes yield the greatest successes.
- Life is not always fair. The concept of being a victim is a non-starter. Progress is slow for women and it's not always fair. Find the solution. Don't be a victim.
- Balance is possible, but not on the same day ;) She was a CEO -- single mom, raising two children. Each of us has a way to figure it out. You can't have it all in one day, but over time you can. There were days the job lost; there were days the kids lost. On the day of the game, I did not feel guilty about missing the meeting. On the day of the meeting, I did not feel guilty about missing the game. You can have it all, but not on the same day.
- Pay it forward. In life, the choices you make are critical. It's what you choose and what you choose NOT to do that you will be remembered for. She's left Avon -- she's focused now on micro-finance and poverty alleviation for women. Grameen give out 1,000 loans a day -- average loan is $2,000 -- these women ARE paying it back. (Grameen America)
Leadership -- it's always about the WHO and not the WHAT.
Tomorrow's leadership generation has to drive sustainable solutions for the future -- it's possible, through people.