How to Identify Leaders with Montse Passolas of Rimmel at Coty
January 29, 2018 By Lauren Stiebing
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Montse Passolas is a highly qualified Global Marketing and Branding board level executive with over 18 years of experience in marketing and communications, digital, new product development, retail, PR and business development strategy within leading brands and companies. Montse is a true international profile with experience working in Spain, France UK, US, and with an emphasis on the beauty and luxury markets with a proven ability to adapt and work efficiently in fast-paced organizations. She is a marketer with strong commercial acumen, online discipline and consumer focus; excellent leadership, charisma and communication abilities.
In this podcast we discuss:
The shift from a boss to an inspirational leader
The qualities which some of the best leaders portray
Camillo Pane and Barack Obama – Why Montse believes in their leadership skills?
Some of the learning platforms she uses to brush up on her leadership skills
Empowerment, guidance, inspiration and recognition – Montse’s secrets to supporting leaders
Hi I’m Lauren Stiebing and on this episode of the career success podcast we will be discussing how to identify leaders with Montse Passolas. Montse is a highly qualified Global Marketing and Branding board level executive with over 18 years of experience in marketing and communications, digital, new product development, retail, PR and business development strategy within leading brands and companies.
Montse is a true international profile with experience working in Spain, France UK, US, Australia and an emphasis on the beauty and luxury markets with a proven ability to adapt and work efficiently in fast-paced organizations. She is a marketer with strong commercial acumen, online discipline and consumer focus; excellent leadership, charisma and communication abilities. She has demonstrated capability in motivating and managing large teams with all levels of experience and she speaks four languages proficiently. Welcome Montse.
Hi Lauren. Hi, thank you very much for having me. Thank you to LSI international, it’s a pleasure to be with you guys.
Great! So as I mentioned in the introduction, the topic of today's podcast will be how to identify leaders and since you’ve held multiple leadership roles, I thought you'd be a great person to share with us some of your ideas and opinions. So, my first question is how has the idea of a leader change since the start of your career?
I started my career almost twenty years ago and in beauty, is a sector that I still love. The main change is that I've seen from many days ago to now, I think before you used to be a boss, maybe they tell you very much what to do. There was very little inspiration and nowadays possibly because we are managing millennials and generational Z, we have moved to a very inspiring role, where you have to of course, guide them in their professional development, but also nourish them in their curiosity, an in the way they relate to the world and to their peers and to their families and to the work life environment. It is a very nourishing, in a certain way, or at least that’s how I see it that the people who are now… truly does not… not… not only incredible on their vision or their role itself but also they are truly inspiring people who understand the needs of the millennials, the gen Z. That … And in the way they see the world nowadays in terms of authenticity. In terms of how they relate to social causes; And at that rate that they are also entrepreneurial, you know young people, the young generation they don't find something that they will do themselves.
They will have a way to have it, right? And that immediacy in reactions before you know, remember when I started working, email was in it’s infancy.
Though that immediacy…. immediate information was not as a highly requirement as it is today. So, the leader has not only to adapt to the way your relationship is relating with the younger generation and inspiring them and embracing their way of thinking but also that immediate reaction; the immediacy need of fulfillment.
And you have to adapt in this way of technological progress because they are born with it, mainly gen Z.
They are the first generation that know about internet. So, the new leaders had to adapt to that way… there way of thinking and the way they relate to technology and speed.
So, those leaders are truly inspiring because they have quickly adapted they learn and they embrace them.
When you are identifying leaders this can be done you know internally at your company or externally when you are hiring or even you know at congresses or events or in your everyday life. What processes do you undergo to identify leaders?
It's the way they…. I think it’s the way they portray themselves. The confidence, they trust they also inspire in others because I think trust is a very important feature; reliability. You can identify leaders… even my hair dresser, everywhere.
And because the way they portrayed in talking with conviction, with confidence and inspiring trust to the others.
And that person who recognizes their weaknesses and at a conference with people who say I'm not better for the subject and this… this and then you want to listen to them.
You do want to listen to them. So, I think for me the leaders after the whole had this conviction, self-confidence without being cocky, and creation of trust. Reliability.
And can you give some examples of great leaders, well they can be people you know or people you don't and you know, why you believe in their leadership skills.
I mean me… I had been very…. very blessed working in great companies like L'oreal.
And I’m currently at Coty. I would say my current CEO, Camillo Pane, is incredible and I truly admire him because he's passionate for what he does, incredibly clear in visionary, talks with conviction but at the same time has humbleness; that makes him so approachable where at the same time inspiring. He's a truly there for me, motivating change and empowering people to be their own entrepreneurs.
He’s giving recognition when needed, when needed and when awarded. I think for me my current CEO; I truly admire him, he’s transforming the way we’re operating in beauty. So, that will be for me one peer one and as a world, I think that Obama
Because he was true to his values and he motivated change and open minded.
Not only the US but in the rest of the world. He made possible the first chance of having a black president and he took the whole world with his convictions and he's inspiring rhetoric. So, I think I will highlight those two for a moment.
Okay thanks and for those of us who wish to build on… on these skills what would you suggest that we do?
I think that reading… reading not only book's but reading magazines and interacting with other people, networking, online and off line. I see… I love listening to Ted; I love listening to speeches of women. There are so many inspiring women nowadays. I really … am… is a topic that I'm absolutely passionate about, the most fascinating women. But listening to them to what they have to say, and children; there are very inspiring children like Malalah, like super genius Rahul who is the most down to earth boy and he's incredibly clever. So, I think a listening, radio podcast programs; it’s very interesting because you capture ideas, the way they … not only the way they think but that way they also say it.
For me sometimes content is important as the forums when you're trying to have those inspiring and authentic ways of portraying yourself.
And for you, when you identify a leader in your team, what actions do you take to get the most out of their abilities?
First is empowering them … empowering them to take their positions and come up with solutions when the problem arises. Let them drive it, guide them when necessary and certainty … certainly recognizing their value.
And not only recognizing their value only in a one to one, or in the formal of feedback day. It is even the small thing to the big, big presentation. To the small email that it was like change the way someone relates to a project or a launch to you know a big project that they have led. So, it is as important recognition and the value they bring into the team; it is very important, I think. So, empowerment, guidance, inspirations and recognition.
Well, Montse thank you so much for joining us today on our career success podcast. I'm sure our listeners have definitely enjoyed and probably you've given them some ideas as well to take with them
Well, I hope so too and thank you very much again for having me; take care.
Remember telling college and high school students “You are the leaders of tomorrow” or words to that effect? Well, guess what? The “tomorrow” we spoke about then is now here! Millennials and members of Gen Z are already part of the workforce, working with Gen Y, Gen X and Baby Boomers. Multi-generation workplaces are not new; however, what is different this time is the quantum of difference that exists between Gen Z and even the immediate preceding generation, the Millennials.
These differences are primarily the outcome of the socio-economic conditions in which so many members of Gen Z were raised. Therefore, Gen Z and Millennials born after say 1995 are seen to have attitudes, values and priorities that are quite different from those of the previous generations. Corporate managers and leaders who appreciate these differences will be better-equipped to understand what motivates Gen Z, in turn helping them to make better decisions around selection, training and performance management.
While it is useful to understand what some of these differences are, it is important to keep in mind that any sort of generalisation is fraught with risk. Being truly “Digital Natives”, Gen Z expects “immediacy”- much like their expectation of instant high-speed wi fi access. In one survey, an astounding 40 percent of Gen Z reportedly ranked wi fi access as higher than working bathrooms! Early exposure to video calls on Skype, Google Duo or Whatsapp makes Gen Z arguably better at walking the fine line between synchronous and asynchronous methods of digital communication.
Managers and Leaders are expected to mentor and guide their direct reports, but with Gen Z the approach needs to be different. Gen Z can be influenced more effectively through inspiration and expertise not as much by pulling rank or throwing hierarchy at them. Gen Z is used to obtaining loads of information off the internet- so what they need is help to understand the context in which they are being asked to do certain things. They won’t shy away from asking questions- and their curiosity must be satisfied. As Ms. Montse Passolas, Vice President of Global Marketing, Rimmel and Manhattan - Coty, said to me in a recent conversation, “You have to of course, guide them (Gen Z) in their professional development, but also nourish them in their curiosity, and in the way they relate to the world and to their peers and to their families and to the work life environment”.
Gen Z also tends to think and act more entrepreneurial than previous generations. This is probably because of the start-up boom that this generation has seen over the past decade, creating so many big names that they have grown up with (Snapchat, Instagram, Netflix etc.). Those managing Gen Z employees and teams can derive significant “diversity dividend” by channelling their thinking to help teams and organizations break the mould and drive innovation. As Ms, Passolas pointed out about the young generation (Gen Z), “… they don't find something they will do themselves”.
To me, there are certain other qualities too that are important indicators of leadership potential- and these transcend generations. The most important among them are passion and compassion. Malala Yousafzai, the Nobel Peace laureate is not yet 21 years old. She survived being shot in the head by the Taliban, and after recovering, has been tirelessly working for the cause of education of girls. Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba is another stellar example. Born and raised in China, Ma was passionate about learning English. It is said that he offered free tours to foreigners to learn English. A member of Gen X, he surmounted rejection on numerous occasions and is today among the world’s most successful business leaders.
Unalloyed joy at the success of their people/teams is another hallmark of leaders. My dad is a professional basketball coach, so I grew up watching a lot of basketball. I have seen how he handled players- both through victory and defeat- and built resilience. In turn, I saw how they simply adored him, and would try their hardest to win- for him. Isn’t that exactly how corporate leadership works too? Or at least, should?
To be honest, not everyone will have the leadership spark- even in Gen Z. So what can Gen X or Gen Y managers do to identify Gen Z employees with leadership potential? I would say that in order to spot high potential Gen Z employees, watch how they carry themselves- their self-confidence, their willingness to take responsibility, their ability to unhesitatingly acknowledge that they do not know something and above all, the air of reliability around them that screams “you can count on me”. As Ms. Passolas observed, “So, I think for me the leaders had this conviction, self-confidence without being cocky, and creation of trust”.
Being a recruitment and executive search professional, I frequently come across people looking to change their jobs. No big deal, you say? Well, yes, except that I continue to be struck by the reasons people commonly cite for seeking a job change. Irrespective of their roles and levels, I have heard reasons such as “tired of being taken for granted around here”; “stagnant in my role for too long” or “too many radical organizational changes”.
Reasons such as the above are often legitimate; however, is it not also possible that some of them are symptoms of individuals with the wrong attitude or being unwilling to adapt to change, thus impeding their performance and growth prospects? Moreover, what assurance does anyone have that a change will not land the individual from the proverbial frying pan into the fire?
I am not suggesting for a moment that people should not change jobs. But I do believe that job changes should primarily be driven by the “right reasons”. Examples of such reasons include the following:
The opportunity to acquire a new skill or gain expertise in a new area (e.g. someone from offline retail joining an online retailer).
A higher role even if it is in a smaller geography or division, as it can add high-impact experience to the resume/CV.
The opportunity to spearhead a new business that is viewed as a high-growth engine allows visibility with senior leaders- an opportunity that may not otherwise be easily available.
In a globalized world, emerging markets like India, China, Africa etc. are critical to organizational growth. The opportunity to gain experience in such environments can be seen as critical in the context of leadership roles.
Leading or even being a part of a cross-functional project team is another kind of opportunity that is increasingly viewed as being valuable.
The opportunity to work for a smaller rival- but at a more senior role- is something that can be immensely valuable.
Certain industries are still in their sunrise phase, so even a ground floor opportunity with companies in such industries can make someone valuable not just in a line function, but potentially, also as in a staff/consulting role (thus allowing for careers to be extended).
In an environment of rapid and often unpredictable change, employers look for people who can help the organization adapt and grow. This could be through new skillsets, or being willing to take up new roles or by exhibiting a “can-do” attitude that enables them to think outside the box and collaborate smoothly across silos (caused by organizational boundaries, hierarchies, geographies and even generations of workforce).
As boundaries between industries are blurring and being redrawn, best practices and strategies are being transplanted across industry by the potent combination of technology and analytics. A utility may learn from a bank, which may adopt the strategies of a successful e-retailer. To become even more nimble, organizations are creating smaller profit centres; conventional cost centres are being transformed into quasi-profit centres. For example, Marketing departments being asked to generate revenue by offering Digital Marketing services to business partners. Doing so needs people with P&L management experience. For someone with only cost centre experience, the opportunity to gain profit centre experience within the same organization can be invaluable; indeed, it may be just the proving ground for a future Business Head. So by all means look for a change- if it means you can acquire new skills or add to your experience.
To cut a long story short, my advice is simply this: if you are looking at a job change, make sure the change will add clear value to you as a professional. If you are looking at the change only as a way to eliminate some negatives in your current position, take a deep breath and think again- maybe there are other options open to you that can deliver the same outcomes.
There may well be different views on this important topic and I’d love to hear yours!
Pablo Isla and Bernard Arnault are on HBR’s 2017 list of “Top 100 CEOs”. HBR follows a rigorous ranking process that takes into account the CEO’s performance on environmental, social and governance criteria as well- which shows that financial performance, while necessary, is no longer a sufficient condition in evaluating CEOs.
This got me thinking about who else from amongst the current set of CEOs might stand out as “inspirational” for me, and how I might pick them. Without getting too hung up on the nitty gritty of specific criteria or methodology, I concluded that I ought to use three indicators to develop my own list of high-performing CEOs. I chose Innovation, Culture Change and Growth. I hasten to add that these are loosely defined terms and my evaluation does not follow a rigorous, scientific, or quantitatively-driven process!
Let me first define the three criteria in my own way. “Innovation” refers to the extent to which the CEO has visibly been able to drive the innovation agenda in his/her company and what results this has delivered. “Culture change” is a bit more amorphous; I use this term to include actions that have enabled drive change across the organization. The change could be a simple tweak in policy that empowers employees to take greater initiative or something more fundamental, such as metrics to measure carbon footprint and work towards specific reduction milestones- in turn making everyone conscious about energy, emissions, water consumption etc. I view “growth” as steady improvement in revenue and profits as well as expansion in footprint (number of stores, locations) or even broadening of product/service portfolio. Please keep in mind that I viewed each of these three criteria in the context of the industry and company.
On the basis of publicly available information, I picked five CEOs. The table below lists them and summarizes why. This list is by no means comprehensive, and I would be delighted to hear from you regarding who else ought to be in this list.
December 16, 2017
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