By  on February 8, 2013

Chuck Rubin frequently eases into a conversation with good-natured teasing and a laugh. It’s a signature of his leadership style: Disarm with a joke and then push for extraordinary results. As president and chief executive officer of Ulta Beauty, Rubin is determined to bring the retailer’s democratic view of beauty, which seamlessly mixes prestige, mass and salon products under one roof, to more markets. His aim is to more than double Ulta’s current door count of 550 units to 1,200. His can-do operating style and the retailer’s stellar performance have won him accolades from beauty brands and Wall Street analysts alike. Ulta’s third-quarter income gained 42.5 percent to $38.2 million, with sales rising 22.4 percent to $505.6 million. Comparable store sales increased 8.4 percent for the quarter ended Oct. 27. In Rubin’s view, retail is not a 9-to-5 job. It’s a lifestyle— one that this hard-charging, veteran executive makes seem like a whole lot of fun.

Are leaders born or made?
They are made. It would be a disturbing outcome if we had to believe they are born. Leaders are made through hard work; observation; a willingness to learn, fail, be accountable, speak up and challenge the status quo, and the ability to ask for feedback—as long as all that is done respectably and directly, that’s how leadership manifests itself. Over time, you learn how to do those things and you grow more comfortable doing them. You can do them in a way that can sometimes be uncomfortable in an organization that may not be used to that, but over time they become more used to it.

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