By  on February 8, 2013

With apologies to Aristotle, Deb Henretta abhors the status quo the way nature abhors a vacuum. For Henretta, leaders are change agents, and she has assumed the helm of Procter & Gamble’s global beauty business ready to make a difference. Now. Her task is daunting: to restore the luster to the
aforementioned business, which suffered a 4 percent decline in sales in fiscal 2012. A veteran P&G exec who last served as head of the Asia region, Henretta has wasted no time in making her presence felt, whether redeploying management or readying global product launches. The results thus far are promising—earnings from P&G’s beauty business in the second fiscal quarter rose 9 percent, while sales inched up 1 percent. Still, as Henretta makes clear in “The Drive to Thrive,” she is just getting started.

“I believe in being very decisive,” was one of Henretta’s most memorable quotes, for both Pete Born, WWD’s executive editor of beauty, and me. That sentiment struck both of us with its forthright directness. Not only does it describe Henretta’s self-professed management style, but it also embodies the new generation of leadership that has arisen in the beauty industry in the last five years. Whether Jean-Paul Agon at L’Oréal, Fabrizio Freda at the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc or Henretta herself, the people leading beauty’s biggest companies all have very strong (and very different) strategic visions for the future. See also E. Scott Beattie of Elizabeth Arden and Chuck Rubin of Ulta. As a result, they have not only positioned their companies for what’s coming, but shaped the direction that the entire industry is moving.

We wanted to dig deeper into the dynamic being created, and the result is this issue, our first devoted entirely to leadership. Our goal was to reveal not just what today’s top executives are thinking, but how. What factors were most influential when they were creating their strategic visions and what factors were most important in successfully implementing them? What’s working today? What’s not? What does leadership mean in today’s hyper-fast multicultural business climate, and how can executives most effectively manage both their far-flung employees and the nuances of an ever-evolving consumer base?
Industry legend Leonard Lauder opens the issue with how the concept of leadership has evolved, while his son, William, reveals best practices for hiring top talent. Agon, Freda and Beattie share their analytical processes in “Inside the Mind,” while Rubin reveals the change in culture he effected at Ulta that has helped drive the retailer to sustained comp-store sales increases. Twelve rising stars point the way to tomorrow in “Smart Young Things,” while BPI’s Patrice Béliard shares his supremely effective team-building tactics in “Going to Extremes.” Trip to the Arctic Circle anyone?

I hope you’ll agree that this issue is as energetic and insightful as the industry itself. E-mail me at jenny_ fine@fairchildfashion.com and let me know.

5 Key Points From This Issue

1. People Power: Creating a meritocracy in which ideas can flow from the bottom up as well as the top down guarantees an influx of fresh thinking.

2. The Origins of Success: Adaptability—be it in a product formula or marketing plan—drives global success today.

3. All Together Now: Strategic visions aren’t the work of one person. Organizational input is critical for successful implementation down the line.

4. Change Is Good: Businesses that accept the status quo won’t survive.

5. Embrace Embellishment: 3-D textural hair and makeup looks—lace lashes, crystal-studded lips—created an extraordinary backstage beauty season at the spring couture shows.

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