Gina Drosos (BBA ’85) knows leadership.
The former head of Procter & Gamble’s Global Beauty Group and current CEO of Assurex Health, Drosos has managed multinational teams competing for worldwide market shares as well as small, 100-person startups.
The key to leadership at any level, she told a packed at the Oct. 3 Terry Leadership Speaker Series event, requires a “compelling vision.”
“Compelling visions inspire people to action. They change behaviors. They drive business results. Having a compelling vision is important both for the business and also for your life,” she said.
It’s increasingly important that students here understand leadership, she said, because as the school’s rankings rise, so do students’ opportunities.
“Make your vision simple to articulate. It has to be something that can be communicated easily, memorized, and thought about in meetings all the way to end of the organization,” Drosos said. “Simplicity trumps complexity every time. It’s easy, but wrong to become enamored with how smart we can sound or how great our technology is. Strategic communication is not telling you know. It is telling the fewest, most important things to enable good decision-making.”
Leaders also need to surround themselves with people who think, act and look differently than they do. It’s the only way to ensure a true variety of ideas, Drosos said.
“My biggest advice is to put yourself into diverse situations and see for yourself how people perceive you, your business and your products,” she said. “It’s very helpful to sit next to a customer service rep, the person who is taking the calls from people who are elated or very discouraged about your product. As a leader, I can then see firsthand how I can help. So I ask you, what can you do to disrupt your comfort zone? Who can you talk to, or more importantly, listen to that will give you a perspective that is different from own and may bring new insights?
“Being a confident enough leader to surround yourself with people who are different from you. You really do not want ‘yes people’ around you because by definition the only thing a leader cannot see are her own blind spots. In order to see 360 degrees, you must value and seek out diversity,” Drosos said.
The best way to prepare for the future is to prepare for every event, Drosos added.
“Be concrete in your scenario planning. Think about how the market might change. Define the ends of the continuum — the extreme upside and the extreme downside. I often have the ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’ and ‘What’s the best that can happen?’ conversations,” she said. “Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll be prepared for all of the possibilities that can happen in between.”
The Terry Leadership Speaker Series presented by the Institute for Leadership Advancement brings well-known leaders from a variety of organizations to the Terry College of Business and the University of Georgia. In these student-oriented forums, leaders are asked to discuss their unique leadership styles and experiences.