• Mon, Mar 26 2012

Lululemon CEO Christine Day Had To Learn To Not Micromanage

Lululemon CEO Christine Day recently sat down with Fortune Magazine to talk about how she is leading this exercise empire. She basically said learning how to give her employees more room to thrive and establish their roles was a learning process for her. Like many managers, Christine had to learn how to not micromanage.

Micromanaging is tough because in the eyes of the manager they are doing what they think are good things but their actions can be detrimental. Micromanagers take perfectly positive attributes – an attention to detail and a hands-on attitude – to the extreme. Either because they’re control-obsessed, or because they feel driven to push everyone around them to success, micromanagers risk disempowering their colleagues. They ruin their colleagues’ confidence, hurt their performance, and frustrate them to the point where they quit. But obviously Christine figured out how to change her behavior and build an extremely successful and lucrative business empire.

In 2008, CEO Christine Day joined the company after 20 years at Starbucks. Since her arrival she has increased the number of stores from 71 to 174, while total revenue has grown from $297 million to almost $1 billion. Lululemon’s stock is up about 300% since its 2007 IPO. The company has also succeeded in capturing a very devoted following, some might even say cult-like. The brand has inspired blogs such as “Lululemon Addict” and hundreds of Facebook groups devoted to celebrating the company. It also encourages its customers to embody the Lululemon lifestyle and identifies “ambassadors” in the community who can show them this better way of life.  There are also Lululemon sponsored exercise classes and running groups. So how Day do it? She attributes it to an established trust between management and employees which took her some time to learn.

In the video below Day talks about how she a very smart executive but she had majored in being right. And when she was trying to get people to take ownership or engagement she had to learn to create jobs big enough for people. “It wasn’t about the telling. It was about creating the space for others.” Obviously it has paid off. But letting employees take on more responsibility and hone their own work can be challenging for some managers. Day said, “Taking responsibility, taking risks, and having an entrepreneurial spirit are qualities we look for in our employees. We want people who bring their own magic.”

Learning how to micromanage less may have been tough for Day considering her boss, Lululemon Founder and former CEO Chip Wilson, had trouble stepping away from the business it seems. Christine has been running the company for the last few years but Chip was always present until the past January. Now he is Chairman of the Board.

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