Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel (August 19, 1883 – January 10, 1971) was a French fashion designer and businesswoman who was the founder and namesake of the Chanel brand. She is credited with liberating women from the restrictive fashions of the early 20th century and revolutionizing the fashion industry with her simple, elegant, and practical designs. Chanel was also an entrepreneur who founded a number of businesses, including the Chanel fashion house and the perfume company that produces the iconic Chanel No. 5 fragrance. Despite facing numerous challenges and setbacks throughout her life, Chanel became one of the most influential figures in the fashion world and her legacy continues to inspire designers and fashion enthusiasts today. So, what can we learn from her leadership?

Spot Trends and Capitalise

Coco Chanel was known for her ability to spot trends and capitalize on them. She was a keen observer of the changing cultural and social landscape, and she was able to anticipate and respond to shifts in consumer preferences and demand. One example of this is the way she incorporated sportswear elements into her designs, which was a departure from the restrictive and formal clothing that was common for women at the time. She recognized the increasing popularity of sports and leisure activities among women, and she incorporated elements like jersey fabric and comfortable, practical cuts into her clothing to meet this demand. Another example is the way she introduced new materials and techniques into her designs, such as the use of jersey fabric and the incorporation of jersey fabric into high-end fashion. This helped to democratize fashion and make it more accessible to a wider range of people.

There are a number of techniques that business leaders can use to spot trends and capitalize on them. The easiest way to begin doing this is by keeping up to date with industry and market trends. This can involve reading industry publications, attending trade shows and conferences, and staying in touch with competitors and partners. Gathering feedback from customers can be another valuable source of information for spotting trends. This can be done through surveys, focus groups, and one-on-one conversations with customers. Technology is also a key driver of many trends, so it is important for business leaders to stay up to date with technological developments in their industry. This can involve attending tech conferences, reading tech publications, and following tech influencers on social media.

Hire for potential NOT experience

Coco Chanel was known for her ability to surround herself with talented people and delegate tasks effectively. She had a strong sense of what she wanted to achieve and was able to identify the skills and expertise that she needed in order to achieve her goals. To surround herself with talented people, Chanel relied on her network of contacts and her ability to spot talent. She was known to be very selective in hiring and would often hire people based on their potential rather than their experience. She also fostered a culture of creativity and collaboration within her team, which helped to attract and retain top talent. She has been quoted as saying the following:

  • “I don’t care about the past. I care about the present. And in the present, the right person is right.”
  • “I hire people brighter than myself, and then I get out of their way.”
  • “I don’t look for perfection, I look for talent. Perfection is a risk. Talent is an adventure.”

To follow in her footsteps and hire for potential it is important to clearly define the skills and qualities that you are looking for in a candidate. This will help you to identify potential hires who have the right combination of skills, attitude, and potential to succeed in the role. Skills and qualities are always transferable they are not fixed. An ability to solve problems for example, is not dependent on someone having worked in a specific industry or role. This requires a leader to look beyond just the CV. A CV is a useful tool for getting a sense of a candidate’s past experience, but it is not going to tell you if they were any good at it or what else they could potentially do. You can teach someone to use a new system, but it is much harder to change their personality and start to proactively solve problems.

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