Leadership: Lindsay Owen-Jones’ at L’Oreal’s makeover

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Introduction

Since its establishment in 1901, L'Oreal, which is a French cosmetics company has steadily developed into one of the grand world leader in the cosmetics market as by the year 2003.  In essence, it is argued that The L'Oreal group managed to market in excess of 500 brands which entail more than two thousand products within its existent period. Among its assorted products range, the company poses of make-up products, perfumes, most of the hair as well as skin care products among so many other brands which have widely been perceived to have been tailored to meet the clientele demands and specifications. In principal, the driving force is that the company extensively believed in the strategy of innovation in addition to product diversification at the same time. For instance, by the year 2003 (though the L'Oreal group was ranked as number one in the United States’ cosmetics market), the group faced unprecedented tough competition from other companies such as  Esteé Lauder,  Procter and Gamble (P&G) among other cosmetic inclined companies. As an avenue to counter the stiff competition, the company opted to shift its strategy to a business oriented one (but at the same time upholding innovation and diversification). This way, the company developed products that catered for the beauty needs targeting an assortment of different ethnic groups as well as gender globally. All this advents do not just come accidentally but are initiated by a relentless working force behind it. Thus, the management is a force to be reckoned as fur as the triumph at L’Oreal is concerned. This assertion melts down to a lone leadership pillar in Lindsay Owen – Jones whom by many has been branded the L'Oreal's Global Makeover Strategist (L’Oreal. 2009). Jones has been the chairman of the board since 2006 and in one of his address excerpts, he has been presented as one of the masterminds that developed the famous two objective drive that saw the company experience a smooth transition since the inception of Jean-Paul Agon as the chief executive officer (L’Oreal.  2011). This study analyzes the advents at L’Oreal in line with the leadership exhibited by Jones and simply point out the contribution of Lindsay Owen-Jones’ in L’Oreal’s makeover. This way, various strategies having been explored will be identified. 

Discussion

Visionary Leadership

In\essence, this kind of leadership is implemented when the management mobilizes its workforce towards the company’s vision by upholding the mission set up by founders of the organization. The underlying emotional intelligences competence is self confidence, empathy as well as catalyst to change.  Lindsay Owen-Jones’ Description of L’Oreal’s Mission and undertakings best exposes this kind of leadership as described in this section hereunder. According to the brochure published by the company, Jones basically describes beauty and cosmetics as an essential part of the quest for beauty as well as the human wellbeing that typically entail the global aspirations.   Such an assertion depicts his leadership to one that is driven by not only experience in management but as well accorded extensive knowledge in beauty products and consumption.   In addition, Jones describes the cosmetic industry as a form of expression which thus pins down to be personal in the “fullest sense”. To him, the organization is driven by the understanding that  cosmetics are part of the social life that always serve the daily requirements that underpin self confidence as well as contact with those close to the consumer. Thus, his commitment at L’Oreal is to meet the aforementioned need by granting all the expertise at their disposal via research resources to exert for the well being of the consumer in all the diversity, around the globe. This commitment is what drives the meaning of L’Oreal group. In general, it evidently dawns that his prime leadership strategy is the commitment of the organization’s workforce to deliver as per the global market expectations.   For instance, the commitment he has held since his assumption of leadership at the company is that the company principally deals with cosmetics; not just for the sake of business but to which focus is granted with all the energy as well as the expertise for close to a century. In simple terms, Jone’s strategy is to uphold the culture and tradition that has been set by his predecessors. 

 

In his own words, Jones describes this as the kind of leadership “in the field which rewards reliable attention to people, an aptitude to understand as well as anticipate individual needs along with wishes”. As far as priority is concerned during his helm, the drive is to combine both the scientific rigor along with the aesthetic sensitivity. In light of this, the effectiveness of his leadership is to mandate that the products that the company develops are build on an in-depth research that will reflect the company’s commitment as well as dedication to innovation, consumer safety and above all, the utmost standards of reliability. In line with this commitment, the products developed will in addition embody the organization’s flair that aims at capturing the universal spirit at all times. In addition, the undertakings that Jones advocates for as fur as the cosmetics industry is concerned is that the business be a celebration of the diversity. In essence, the appearance as well as the physical nature of each individual is quite unique, with prime variations in age, the skin type, as well as the hair requirements. In terms of cultural diversity, the perception is as well very great since beauty vary from one country to another. Additionally, the rituals pinned to it as fur as cosmetics are concerned as well as the personal care will dictate the diversity to be adopted. Important to note at this juncture is that all the aforementioned diversity are very dynamic and any products endeavored to meet them ought to be as dynamic as possible. For instance, a person’s preference for a certain hair style, the skin care, a certain make-up, or even the perfume to use express the imminent uniqueness of each person. With this in Mind, Jones believes to assuage the organization’s standards to be founded on respect for all the global diverse requirements with the capacity to match the individual diversity of the L’Oreal’s products as well as the brands celebrated at the company. From this description of the company, the leadership advocated by Jones comes imminent. First, the strategy is to uphold the already set tradition by the organization’s founders. Secondly, to explore the avenues presented by research to ascertain innovation as a tool that meets the international and local consumer needs. Thirdly, he advocates for diversity in its products to meet the diversity in socio-economic and cultural variations globally. To recap the description, his leadership is pinned on the drive of establishing a business whose responsibility in all the undertakings defines the organizational success. Jones is quoted as saying; “our success has only been lasting because our operations have always been guided by principles and a keen sense of our responsibility to society as a whole”. This is the kind of leadership Jones can be generally accorded to have upheld at L’Oreal.

Affiliative Leadership

In this kind of leadership, the management’s prime modus operandi is to cultivate harmony as well as build the emotional bonds within the workforce and the leadership at large. This style can best be summarized in a phrase that underpins people’s welfare as the principal priority. In addition, the underlying emotional intelligence to be adopted in this leadership is intelligence competencies, the empathy whose building relationships and communications come handy. The style is best suited during times of internal as well as external rifts especially amid the management and the workforce or even with other competing organizations.  In his leadership, this style was adopted by Jones during the emergence of competing firms such as P&Q and Estee’. The internal climate seemed swayed during the stiff competition which triggered the adoption of the business strategy above innovation and diversification. For instance, in the year 2005 (after the company had been ranked number one globally but with looming competition from the aforementioned firms) Jones developed the two famous Affiliative objectives that had to see the company through. “In 2005 we focused on two major objectives” .the primary objective was to set in place a change that would see through various generations as fur as the leadership at L’Oreal was concerned. This way, a very smooth transition could be implemented with minimal rifts at the helm bearing in mind the then bulging external competition. In light of this, Jean-Paul Agon was instituted as the executive officer at L’Oreal. According to Jones, this move was intended to see Agon gain massive confidence not merely at the organizational level but also extend it to the financial markets. This was an Affiliative move that would see power sharing in leadership thus minimize internal wrangles in order to deal with the external competition aptly.  At the same time, the second major objective was set in motion.  Here, the target was to ones more realize a double digit earnings growth. Thus, affiliation was mandatory to push through with this target. After the appointment of Agon, the main target shifted to the consumer satisfaction through employee-agreeable motives. The amount of the earnings that was flooded into research hit three percent of the annual earnings as the main avenue of winning the consumer and employee confidence. Undoubtedly, the year ended with a growth rate in excess of 6.5% despite the intricate start with stiff competition, financial meltdown among other barriers. This was heavily attributed the Affiliative approach set at the start of the year along with the favorable exchange rates realized during this period. In one of his excerpts, the Leader is quoted as saying that the company’s growth had increased substantially with the net earnings growing by over 13.3%. Further pollster the Affiliative approach to the market and the financial stocks, Jones announced a net dividend of one euro for each share in the stock market which represented a growth of more than 22% from the previous financial year.  To him, such results had a special significance to him (“for me personally”). This was his final year at the helm (21st year).  This results attributed to the adoption of the Affiliative approach are summarized in the figure below.

Selling persuading

 For all intents and purposes, this type of leadership provides a platform whereby the leader retains the authority to provide specific guidance and instructions alongside the provision of supervising the subsequent protocols. In light of this, the management will persistently invite suggestions as a way of supporting any advents within the organization.  This implies that the leader does not delegate his powers and functions fully but will work in handy to the success of the entire organization. In context at L’Oreal, this style was extensively exploited by Jones during his tenure. In light of this, Jones coupled persuading democratic and coaching as apt strategies that saw the organization sail through successfully during the 2009 economic bite.  A in principal, he branded this a model of corporate citizenship. By foretelling the imminent challenges in the near future, Jones perceived it to be an exciting challenge that promoted the adoption of this model. In this regard, the company intensified its efforts to involve all the employees actively in the running of the company undertakings in 2009. In an interview, Jones asserted this model by saying; “We are already acknowledged as one of the most advanced global companies…. in such areas as…..of sustainable innovation…. diversity in addition to ethics”. On matters touching the global warming issue, the involvement of the employees and other stake holders as collaborators targeted the upholding of the environmental requirements as well as standards. This way, the company was inclined towards staying ahead of all time by making formal the commitments towards curbing global warming.  For instance, the carbon dioxide emission was halved not mentioning the halving of water consumption as well as waste production since 2009. This strategy was to be seen all the way through till 2015 as an exemplification of an all round dimensional social responsibility and behavior. As a way of involving its employees to this commitment, the company (during the centenary celebrations) encouraged each of its subsidiaries to lend hand in the worthy outreach project.  On overall, a hundred projects that involved all its employees, the disadvantaged communities, and other vulnerable social setting were initiated to benefit each of the targets in a useful tangible way. In addition, this commitment was executed when the company’s foundation managed to publish major reference exertions on the historical developments of beauty (tapped, 100000 years of beauty) targeting its employees as major authors.  This was intended to amply demonstrate the influential role played by individual enhancement in civilizations all over history. This was further to prove that the company’s prime market (which is human beauty) was to be sustainably upheld for periods to come.    To recap on this undertaking, the mutual involvement of its employees was to draw them close to the company. In addition, their confidence in the management was cultivated which was to promote a conducive working environment amid the management on one side, the employees at the other end and above all the consumer safety.  

 

Conclusion

It is evident that L’Oreal has transformed itself from a local enterprise into a global leader of all time. Under the apt leadership of Lindsay Owen-Jones’, the company principally adopted a visionary type of leadership that has cultivated all its triumph. In its mission and vision, three prime issues were underpinned. First was innovation. Through innovation, the company managed to plough back close to 3% of its annual earnings into research as the main avenue of attaining customer satisfaction. In its policies, five major ambitions were identified (L’Oreal.  2005). This included reflection in all the company’s team at all levels of diversity. This way, nationalities, social or cultural settings, as well as the consumer preferences were give priority. To achieve this, the employment pool within the company has been at par with its vision and mission.  In addition, the company aimed at promoting gender equity among its workforce and affiliates. For instance, access of women to high profile positions as well as favor gender equity in job acquisition has been made operational in all sectors within the organization. Furthermore, the company creates value for experience as a tool for anticipation of longer working life.  An inclusive managerial and participation in the commitment to environmental sustainability has seen its employees be involved in the management of the initiatives adopted by the company since 2009. This is what defines an all round leadership by Jones. In addition, Visionary leadership has been guided by second issue; diversification both in its products and consumers.

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