10th Apr 2014

Creative control for Burberry’s new chief exec

As Angela Ahrendts prepares to exchange the Burberry trench for a Mac later this year, Christopher Bailey shapes up to take on the CEO role at Burberry while retaining his current role of Chief Creative Officer. In doing so, Bailey will join an elite group of leaders who have creative control and the top seat at the leadership table. Bailey will be keen to make an impact in his first 100 days and central to doing so will be his ability to lead his team.    

Bailey is credited with turning Burberry’s fortunes around in recent years through an image overhaul and a change in creative direction. The company has pioneered in the fashion world using technology as a platform. Among the company’s successes have been an initiative that harnesses technology to allow consumers purchase direct from the cat-walk, a move which has revolutionised the fashion industry. Bailey is clearly reaping the rewards of his success in recent years in being awarded the Chief Exec role.

One of the biggest challenges facing any new leader in their first 100 days is in the area of team building. Bailey is no exception to this rule. Without the support and hard work of colleagues and stakeholders, even the most enlightened and visionary leader will fail to make progress. Having worked with the company since 2001, Bailey will be familiar with the team that he is inheriting. Bailey clearly has the ability to lead, having led his creative team from strength to strength in recent years. His first 100 days will be an opportunity to re-evaluate and refresh his team, and ensure that the right people are in the right roles.

A key element of building a high performing team is the ability of the new to role leader to communicate their vision early on, and get buy-in from all stakeholders.  Even if a team already has a vision in place, it is important for a new leader to re-evaluate and refresh this. A team with a strong vision and sense of purpose is far more likely to exceed expectations. Looking at his track record, Bailey clearly has the ability to communicate his vision.

It looks as though the biggest challenge for Bailey will be his ability to move away from operating solely as Chief Creative Officer and embrace his new dual role. In order to do so, he will need to capitalise on his newness in the role in his first 100 days, demonstrate to his team that he can rise to the challenge and secure buy-in to his vision early on. His ability to achieve this should put Bailey and the leadership team on their way to achieving success.

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