Podcast

Lauren Stiebing 02 April 2021

Identifying Your Personal Leadership Style with Sylvie Moreau

Today we have invited Sylvie Moreau, who after 23 years at P&G and 4 years as president of Coty Professional Beauty shares her personal story on how to identify your personal leadership style.

In this episode she explains the three H’s leadership and how she uses them to become a more impactful leader.

Topics covered:

  • Three tips on how to dial up your impact as a leader
  • Suggestions for those trying to find their personal purpose and leadership style
  • Sylvie’s personal thoughts on the future leadership changing because of COVID-19

Lauren Stiebing:

All right, Sylvie, So thank you so much for joining me today.

 

Sylvie Moreau:

Thank you, Lauren, for the opportunity. I’m really delighted to take part in your series of podcasts.

 

Lauren Stiebing:

Well, thank you. Let’s jump right into it. I’m sure that it wasn’t easy, you know identifying your leadership style. Can you walk me through a bit of the journey of how you got here?

 

Sylvie Moreau:

Okay. So I studied business and started my career in France in marketing at Proctor and Gamble over 25 years ago. And after 10 years in France, I moved as a young mother to Geneva for roles with European and Global Scope. First on the retail have runs then on the professional we have division of Kenji. And in 2016, I joined Coty as part of its merger with Procter and gamble, specialty beauty business. And I became the global president of one of the three divisions of Coty professionally. And so this last December, the business I was in charge became an independent company again as a joint venture between the respective private equity firm, KKR and Coty which is super exciting, 140 years after the founding of the original company. And so as we speak, now I’m taking some time off after full-on 23 years in P and G. Full-on four years of Coty because you know, Lauren and as much as I love the professional industry, the brands and most of all its people, I also believe it’s very important to know when to move on. And I know that my mission has been fulfilled having led well after independence again and I feel it could be my legacy.

 

Lauren Stiebing:

All right. And how would you describe your leadership style Sylvie?

 

Sylvie Moreau:

So I feel fortunate to have worked with and learnt from many great leaders throughout my career. And through my experience, I’ve developed a strong belief in the power of creating a workplace based on accountability, high standards, but also mutual respect, trust, strong relationships and a deep sense of belonging. So I aspire to what I like to call the three H leadership.

 

Lauren Stiebing:

Okay.

 

Sylvie Moreau:

Lead with the head, lead with the hands but also lead with heart.

 

Lauren Stiebing:

Yeah. What does that mean to you, and how do you use this to be a better leader?

 

Sylvie Moreau:

So lead with the head. It’s about the importance of understanding your category and competitive landscape, the importance of having a company, purpose, vision, and set of goals and also well-defined and choiceful business strategy. But I also believe in hands-on leadership. So showing accountability and mastery and what you do. Being visible and approachable as a leader close to the field and where the action is, and really willing to contribute to the team. And then finally, to round this off and so important these days lead with the heart. So it’s about the ability to connect with consumers and your customers, about the talent to attract, to engage and to retain your team. And I feel that the arts is to combine the three cause I don’t think we should compromise one aspect over another and have any trade-offs between head hands and hearts.

 

Lauren Stiebing:

Sure. And what, let’s say two to three tips that you would give to your younger self to really dial up your impact as a leader?

 

Sylvie Moreau:

Oh, that’s a big question. Five year, a few years ago I had the pleasure of participating in a panel with that seemed so I had a good chance to deeply reflect on on what would be the top three things that I believe would have served me the most as a younger professional. I don’t put you that can help younger professionals listening to your podcast. So my first tip would be, you can only see what you see. And this tip has greatly helped me throughout my professional career, because early on even at a young age, as a professional I’ve always tried to set the agenda with a clear long term. And it starts by understanding the business and being aware about where you are now which is what most organizations neglect, before you define where you want to be in the future and whichever role you have whichever level you have in the organization whichever new challenge I would be given I would really spend time understanding the business and formalizing the strategy upfront. Because I think underlying understanding of the landscape and underlying strategy allows you to be the best steward of the business. It allows you to increase your influence, and it helps galvanize the whole team.

 

Lauren Stiebing:

Sure.

 

Sylvie Moreau:

So that would be the first tip. My second lesson experienced every step of my career. And that’s an African proverb that I really love. If you wanna go fast, go alone. But if you wanna go far go together. So it’s all about the power of people and having the right team. And I’ve been, and I’m still very deliberate to surround myself with an outstanding and diverse group of people, and to coach my team so that they can thrive below me. Because I believe you rise by lifting others. And maybe the last and the most important which I’ve really experienced in the last 12 years more than any time in my career, passion happens without success but true success never happens without passion. You have to enjoy and deeply connect with your work. And I link to this, I came across a few years ago, what I think is the most performant possibly longer about self-fulfillment it’s a Japanese concept called Ikigai and it captures the reasons for being of one soul. And it’s this magic place when you can combine what you love, with what you’re good at, what you can be paid for and what makes a in the world and that center point Ikigai. I have to say that in my role as president of the professional beauty division at Coty, I was really blessed to be able to combine my personal passion with my profession.

 

Lauren Stiebing:

Well thank you for sharing that. And yeah, I mean, every leader has some strengths and also learns a lot from failures that they’ve had throughout their career which I think can really help others as well. So how have your failures informed or influenced you as a leader?

 

Sylvie Moreau:

So someone said, you know, failure stands for F from a action. I L learn from action I learn. And I completely agree with this. Because my approach is really to, I prefer testing and trying and improving ideas and execution fast. And through this whole process, getting to a better place. Now, if you really pulled me on, you know what are the mistakes and what influence they’ve had on me as a leader I will tell you probably that the most regrets I have had they you know, fall in two categories. And they’re redoing for these two beliefs I now have as a professional. One of the two composition is the biggest business decision a leader makes. And why I was telling you in general, I’ve been surrounded by great talent and I feel blessed to have led fantastic teams. I did make errors or letting some people go too slow and on the other hand hiring too fast so some of them without the thorough prompted reference check. So, you know, team is a very big business decision. And then the second mistake or regrets falls into the camp of confronting with the reality of the trenches. Execution is everything. And sometimes we tend in the boardroom to really overestimate how soon things will go in reality, and not factoring the execution losses. And I can tell you, like in a very operational business like professional, I did make some errors especially on go-to market changes to not really face the reality of execution. And now I know not to overlook this.

 

Lauren Stiebing:

And what would you suggest to others that are trying to find their personal purpose and leadership style?

 

Sylvie Moreau:

You know, for me, it really happened unconsciously at first and then over time, it became obvious. You know, personally, what I’m passionate about is helping old business executives, but in particular women to flourish and to believe in themselves so that they can now they can have it all. But the most important advice I would give you or anyone who’s looking for their purpose and their leadership style is one to be authentic, and two to be intentional. because, you know, you lead by example. So what you stand for, needs to be based on your values and what really matters to you. So in my case, you know, I believe in the strength of women being equal to men and I champion individuality and inclusion. So I’m being very intentional about expressing this, you know, helped me stand up for the things that I wanted to, you know be recognized for and it helped me, you know have consistent behaviors with what I believed in. And just to give you an example Lauren, to illustrate this on intentionality, you know when I became general manager at P and G it’s a very big step in a very big milestone in the P and G career. And I was deliberate about being unapologetically a woman. Feminine and indulging in the beauty care category which I was working in. So as a result, for example, for many years I have always come to work wearing a dress or skirts and of course, running on heels it was my deliberate intention, you know to express my personality and somehow my purpose of showing that you can be showing your true colors at work as a very feminine woman.

 

Lauren Stiebing:

No, I think that, that makes sense. And yeah, being purposeful about it, knowing who you are and not necessarily changing to fit a mold that either exist or you think exists, but to just stay true to yourself. That’s great.

 

Sylvie Moreau:

Absolutely. I love this quote to say that, you know if you want to perform, you cannot conform. If you conform you’re losing office energy to be a different you, while if you are honest with yourself and your authentic self you can really focus on performing, not conforming.

 

Lauren Stiebing:

And what do you see? Do you see the future of let’s say leadership changing because of COVID-19 and new ways of working and yet, if so, how?

 

Sylvie Moreau:

Well, for sure, you know, life’s, they’ve seen a sudden unpredictable and overwhelming change, and it’s very clear that the pandemic will leave a profound and lasting impact on the society and on the economy and you know, leadership culture. But while I can, you know, it can feel daunting. I want to look at this optimistically because it’s an opportunity to shift to the better overall. And I’m hopeful that we will

always feel the challenge to build much better, not go back to where we come from but to use this opportunity to create a more sustainable, a more inclusive and a more equitable environment and society for all. And, you know, companies today must be more horizontal in their organization. They need to be more diversified in their talent more inclusion in their leadership for flexible, not angina in terms of work location. And these are essential aspects to attract them to retain talents. And personally, these are the key characteristics that I will personally look for. And ultimately build in the new company I will join to create the new next fulfilling chapter in my professional life. I don’t know which company yet, but know which culture I will look for and ultimately champion and build.

 

Lauren Stiebing:

Well, Sylvie, thank you so much for being so open honest and sharing your thoughts on this topic.

 

Sylvie Moreau:

Thank you. It was a pleasure talking with you, Lauren. I really enjoyed our conversation and the preparation for this talk and I hope some of these tips and experiences will help our audience along the way. Thank you again, Lauren.

 

Lauren Stiebing:

Thank you.