There are many elements to being a great leader, but an absolute prerequisite is being a skilled communicator. It’s very rare that you encounter a great boss who isn’t an expert communicator. CEOs have to communicate with everyone, both within the organization and outside; from the part-time employee or once-a-year customers to members of the board, partners, and other leaders of their industry. They need to get the tone right for everyone. Leadership and communication are inextricably linked.
We take it for granted that those who reach the top of major companies will have the experience and technical know-how to do the job. But that just isn’t enough; if the leader can’t communicate, how will he or she share the benefits of that skill and experience? Those CEOs and leaders who are good communicators can set out their vision, share their wisdom, and motivate others to be their best.
CEOs are busy people, with a thousand calls on their time and even more on their minds. As such, I was honored that Mr Marc Aublet, CEO of the Provoalliance group, agreed to be interviewed for this blog post. Provoalliance is the top franchiser of beauty salons in Europe, with ten brands in their portfolio including Jean Marc Maniatis, Franck Provost, Jean Louis David. The group has a presence in thirty-five countries, with over 25,000 employees serving 35 million+ customers each year. Mr Aublet was kind enough to give us some insights into his path to becoming a CEO and talk about the challenges of managing a multi-unit, multi-brand portfolio.
Mr Aublet told me that one of the greatest mistakes leaders make is to think that it’s just a title – it has to be your vocation. If you just want the plate on the door, you’re not going to be a good leader. To avoid failures and overcome what might sometimes seem impossible odds, the best leaders can recognize that there are things they don’t know. Companies that enjoy continual growth have CEOs who are always willing to learn; they certainly need to have confidence in their ability, but they also need to admit their faults and mistakes. Back your decision to the hilt, but always look for feedback and be ready to adjust if necessary. If the leader is authentic, she or he inspires trust, and trusting employees are willing to work for the leader. Therein lies the key to organizational success.
According to Mr Aublet, the greatest energy one can get comes from feeding off other human beings, and he found that in his partnership with Mr Frank Provost. The two men started off with just eighteen beauty salons and a desire to build and make their business better every single day. He has learnt that, as CEO, he needs to model the type of work ethic and moral ethics he wants to see from every employee. He told me:
“The culture of our brand is about seeing that inherent greatness that lies within our employees. And it’s our job to set them free. We have a culture of continuous improvement, we are always open to new ideas, and we want every member of our organization to feel that his or her contribution is valued. Promote the daily culture of positivity and motivation; we want every employee to know and understand what the company’s objectives are and how their daily contribution helps us to move closer to achieving them. People have greater motivation when you involve them in the company process as part of the project and value their contributions; you need to give them the tools they need, let them share their ideas openly, and encourage them take risks to improve and innovate.”
While you can’t expect to expand your business without a truly efficient and high-performance infrastructure, Mr Aublet believes that reputation is the most important element of all. He explained that he can’t expect his franchisees to give customers the very best possible experience unless he’s giving the franchisees the best experience he can give them.
Trust underpins everything in international business, Mr Aublet explained. His franchisees certainly are looking to make a profit, but they also need to know that the leaders of the company are invested in their success and are dealing with them fairly and openly. Many entrepreneurs possess the skills to run their own business, but they often lack the experience they need to get a business up and running successfully. When they buy a franchise, they’re purchasing the experience of men like Mr Aublet; they’re effectively buying a complete system to help them run their business.
Mr Aublet explained a little about how his system works: “No matter what sector you’re working in, you can’t create a business empire without strategic planning and effective leadership. But what’s fascinating about beauty salons, in particular, is that they haven’t been as impacted by the Internet as other industries because people are always going to need a hairdresser there in person to provide them with what is a deeply personal service. We’ve got a lot of highly creative people on hand who are willing to take responsibility for themselves, and they make me want to improve myself and help them improve. One of the things you have to learn as your business expands is that you can’t micromanage everything. You’ve got to step back at some point and have trust in those to whom you delegate.
“Far too many people spend their working lives in jobs that they are not passionate about just so they can get that paycheck at the end of the week. The truth is this: in time, you’ll come to resent this sort of work; the key to happiness is to pick a career that interests you. If you do so, in addition to enjoying your day-to-day life more, you’ll have an opportunity to work in a job you really believe in. You’ll enjoy that sense of achievement.”
If you enjoy your job and are really passionate about it, having to go to work won’t ever seem a chore. Finding a job that makes you happy will, ultimately, make your life happier
The last thing Mr Aublet shared with us was that you must be absolutely committed to your vision; however, at the same time, you should continually question what you’re doing and think about what changes you can make. You have to be both a passionate driver and a stern critic of your own plans, which is a sort of duality that not every business leader can achieve.
Ana Paula Araujo Mendes
Many thanks to:
Mr. Marc Aublet, CEO of the Provoalliance Group.
Created by Franck Provost in 1975 with the opening of its first salon in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Provalliance has become in 40 years the number 1 in the hairdressing salon sector in Europe.
Today, the Group relies on a network of nearly 3,000 salons employing around 25,000 employees and welcoming more than 35 million customers every year. It includes more than 500 branches owned and managed by the Group and nearly 2,250 franchised salons. The Group is present in 35 countries around the world.