L’Oréal has very clear ambitions: to continue to lead in a highly competitive sector, to continue to globalise and, over the next ten years, to double the number of consumers the organisation serves. As the world moves towards emerging markets they recognise a need to change and adapt.

The organisation’s Country Managing Directors are critical to the success of this strategy. They are responsible for managing the L’Oréal business in their country, providing strong leadership for the organisation’s employees and ensuring that L’Oréal fulfils its social responsibilities to the communities in which it operates.

It is a complex and challenging role and L’Oréal is seeking to develop a new generation of senior executives to succeed in an environment of increasing complexity, globalisation, hyper-competition and continuous change

The Organization

L’Oréal is a leader in the global beauty business. Founded over 100 years ago by a chemist/entrepreneur in Paris, the organisation is now present in 130 countries, employing 65,000 people and developing and marketing 25 global brands. 

A Networked Learning Approach

The Country Managing Director’s Programme takes a Networked Learning approach to developing the skills required in this challenging context. Initially a successful, fully residential programme, was designed to meet the specific needs of this important group. Over time it was felt that a blended, technology-enabled, approach could increase the efficiency of the learning, and the degree of long term application.

In the current programme, Country Managing Directors from around the world meet initially for a face-to-face module in Paris and begin the process of coming together as a supportive learning community. In this first session the group focus on their leadership challenges. After returning to their regions, they join a series of scheduled, web-based tutorials with Cranfield faculty over a 12 month period – combining pre- and post- work assignments and coaching support.

Issues tackled with Cranfield faculty during these sessions include Change, Innovation, Visioning, Stakeholder Management and Leadership/Management Style. As an online, networked, community they are supported with additional, guided resources made available at intervals from the Cranfield Knowledge Interchange. These relate to specific topic areas identified as most useful during the face-to-face module.

A concluding face-to-face, Paris based, event draws the learners together to consolidate the learning.  It is also an opportunity to strengthen personal relationships for the continuance of their career networks going forward. 

Impact

As a result of the programme, L’Oréal has already observed a number of changes.Firstly in terms of leadership style, Country Managers themselves are more self-aware, more sensitive to their own leadership style, to their relationships with others and to intercultural issues.

Programme participants are employing a range of tools from the programme to tackle their day-to-day challenges. Examples include the use of new change management models in Southern Europe; new lenses on sustainable development deployed in Asia; and stakeholder management models applied in L’Oréal’s start-up operation in Kenya.

The changes in leadership style are having an impact both upwards and downwards in the organisation. The programme is demonstrating that the tools, models, new ideas and new insights introduced during the programme are an important way of complementing the development that L’Oréal is able to do internally.

Author: Tony Russell, Director Senior Executive Development, L’Oréal

Source: https://www.cranfield.ac.uk/som/centre-for-customised-executive-development/case-studies/loreal