Beauty’s Top Execs on Leading Through Crisis

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Alex Keith

Chief Executive Officer, P&G Beauty

What skills are most important to lead people through crisis?

Defining the true priorities, focusing everyone on them, and clarity and consistency of communication are essential during a crisis of this magnitude, when there is so much that needs to be done. While listening is a critical leadership skill all the time, it is absolutely fundamental at a time like this. This includes listening to employees and to our consumers to understand their needs, and responding with deep empathy.

What changes do you think will be permanent?

I’m so proud of my organization’s ability to make decisions much more intuitively, primarily as a result of the speed the situation demands. Given the length of time we are spending navigating this crisis, fast and intuitive decisionmaking will be a well-developed muscle for our people, and we’ll benefit from it into the future. It will definitely enable us to emerge from this period stronger than when we entered it.

Artemis Patrick

Executive Vice President, Chief Merchandising Officer, Sephora Americas

What have you learned as a leader?

I love to interact with people in person. I always prefer a phone call or one-on-one conversation over sending an e-mail. This personality trait isn’t exactly conducive to working from home. As a leader, I’ve learned that I need to flex other muscles to keep the human connection going with my team, my colleagues and our brand partners, whether that’s a quick check-in over the phone, a Zoom happy hour or just a short e-mail or text to say, “Hi I’m thinking of you.” As leaders, we are conditioned to always be on the go, and this pandemic has made me acknowledge and appreciate the small moments of pausing to checking in on people in different ways.

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