Leadership Series: 4 P's to Success

05-14-2012 7:37 AM

The second post in the leadership series comes from Mary Kay's Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Beth Lange. Beth shares four key elements of effective leadership.


Mary Kay's Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Beth LangeNone of us are born leaders, but instead have to learn lessons along the road to success.  Here are 4 P’s I have learned along my journey.

I love being involved in research and development, it energizes me.  Doing what I love makes me a happy person.  Everyone needs to find a career path that is rewarding for them.  Find your passion, not your parents', your spouse’s or your mentor’s.  You will spend more awake time at work than at home; make sure you are happy all day long!

Just because you are not a member of the independent sales force does not mean that you don’t need to learn how to sell yourself or your ideas.  You need to practice giving presentations, writing a concise email or meeting agenda, pulling together a PowerPoint deck.  These things do not come naturally!  I had a speech disorder as a child and went through 5 years of speech therapy in elementary school.  It shocks my family that I can get out onstage and talk in front of a large audience.  Believe me – it took a lot of practice!  If you want to go the management track, take leadership training and learn what it takes to be a leader.   Don't assume just because you are smart that you will be a successful manager.  Know your strengths and  weaknesses and address them.

Mary Kay is a very emotional company.  We take into account the whole person, which is great!  But often, business decisions are based on facts, and we can’t take things personally when things do not always turn out how we would like them.  Sometimes we get too emotionally involved and need to learn to "let it go" and move on.  I have seen many meetings where a man will disagree with another man in a meeting and afterward talk about golfing together after work.  When women disagree, we to often take it personally and will hold grudges far too long.  It’s counterproductive to hold grudges.

Personal Best
The most important lesson I have learned is to be the best me that I can be.  When I started my first job out of graduate school, I was nervous as a new manager and was desperately anxious to be seen as a strong leader.  As a result, I completely emulated my boss.  About a year later I attended a training course where I got feedback from my peers about my management style and gaps. A team member wrote in the comments "She acts like a 50-year-old Scotsman," which, at the time, described my boss and not me!   I had copied his management style and it was not a good fit.  I started taking various management classes where I was taught various styles.  None of these seemed to fit either!  So finally it dawned on me that no style fits all occasions. Every person and every situation is different, and as long as I treat others with respect and am true to myself - that’s just fine.



Beth visiting the Great Wall of China | Mary Kay

 Beth visiting the Great Wall of China.