Patrizio di Marco, Gucci’s president and CEO, wants to be remembered as someone who finetuned the positioning of the fashion goods maker — a brand that was already a legend. As someone who believes in the “give and you shall receive” philosophy, Marco tells HT that a true leader must empower his people to draw out their best. Excerpts.
What are the key elements that make a true leader?
To be a true leader you have to have a clear vision and mission. Then, it is important to have great people around you. And if you have great people around you, you have to empower them to do what they are capable of.
This means believing in your team and at the same time recognising that there will always be occasions when mistakes are made. That should not, however, deter you from keeping faith.
I also believe it is fundamental that you treat you staff well. It is a “give and you shall receive” philosophy. You have to train your people to give them an opportunity to perform at their best. This is what a smart leader does in a company.
How easy or difficult is it for a leader to remain one?
It is much more difficult to nurture leadership than to actually become a leader. You have to act in a way that is consistent with your vision, taking into consideration how the world is changing and the directions of these changes, anticipating them even, and creating a legitimate and authentic consensus around you.
How important is to be nice to people to be a true leader?
If you are a leader, you need to have a clear and transparent relationship with your people, for instance to speak out when things are not going well. You talk with them and take the best decision for the company and for the people. It’s not a matter of being nice or impolite, it’s a matter of transparency.
Who, according to you, are leaders? (you mentioned Domenico de Sole, Yves Carcelle, Patrizio Bertelli)
All of them have been great mentors for me; from each one of them I have learned something different. You have to always be capable to observe the best in every person you deal with.
Among the top echelons of brand and branding, what is the role that Gucci plays in terms of its leadership?
Glamour, craftsmanship and social responsibility combine in a formula that I believe truly distinguishes Gucci in the international luxury goods sector today, making it authentic, relevant and a leader rather than a follower.
Over 90 years have passed since our founder Guccio Gucci established the values that are still the foundations of Gucci’s DNA today.
What all changes have you brought into Gucci after taking over as CEO?
My goal, starting almost four years ago, was basically to bring Gucci back to its roots. The story of a wonderful brand that is definitely about fashion, is definitely cool, is definitely an authority in the fashion world, but a brand that at the same time has a 90-year history, which has a real heritage, has products that are truly artisanal and made by hand. The intention is — and was — primarily to stress the great wealth that has always been inside the company, but for a number of reasons, has not been spoken about as it should have been.
There is no doubt that Gucci is a legendary brand. But there is also no doubt that the positioning of the brand has been somewhat fluctuating over time. And this is, primarily, because of the many lives that this company has lived.
In the last four years, we have moved to fine tune the positioning of the brand. This has been achieved through a rebalancing of the product offer with a greater emphasis on more precious and sophisticated products, by creating a more evident and consistent link between seasons and collections, by focusing the assortment within the collections and reviving the brand’s icons such as the Bamboo, Jackie and Stirrup bags and the renowned Gucci Loafer, which celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2013. The brand has established a higher-level positioning and exclusivity, recapturing the more knowledgeable client as it continues to attract aspirational customers.
What has made you a name to reckon with in luxury?
Gucci is a brand that is larger-than-life, which will outlive all of us. I would like to be remembered as a CEO who finetuned the positioning of the Gucci brand.