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Career Success
SEP 15, 2020

Supercharge Your Career with Empowerment Leadership

By Laura Abbott, with Marco Spola
eclipse images @iStock

It’s not always easy for leaders to change their mindset. When we find a rhythm that works (or seems to work), it’s natural to want to stick with it. But as the business world evolves away from rigid hierarchies and nine-to-five office work, leaders will need to evolve with it.

This isn’t just important for adapting to new team dynamics internally—it also boosts competitiveness.

Luxury fabric manufacturer Loro Piana supplies top apparel brands to big industries and independent tailors all over the world. With such a wide reach, the company needs its employees to be creative powerhouses. To drive results, clear communication is a must, particularly when teams span countries and cultures.

Empowerment leadership is the preferred strategy of Marco Spola of Loro Piana.
Marco Spola, head of textiles at Loro Piana Asia Pacific

GLOBIS Insights interviewed Marco Spola, head of textiles at Loro Piana Asia Pacific, about the role of business leadership in this art-infused industry. 

What’s the secret to leadership?

Empowering your team is the best way to succeed, but a key part of empowerment leadership is asking the right questions. Sometimes people have great potential, but they are looking for the right environment or right moment to thrive. A good leader gives these people not only direction, but also an environment where each member can feel free to express themselves.

This is important because empowerment is all about giving chances and accepting diversity. In real life, it’s common for some of your team members to be completely against your style of leadership, so communication and transparency are very important. A leader should be clear from day one about his values and be consistent with them while remembering that bias can be a trap. Fighting someone with different values often leads you both to a dead-end.

Embracing diversity can enrich your team, but it’s a two-way street. Team members also need to respect each other. If this is not a two-way process, there is something wrong and the team needs to be adjusted.

You also need to engage your team, and being transparent is the best way to do that. If my team is disengaged, it means I was not clear on something. I go back, review what I said, and try to reorganize my ideas. Once my thoughts are clear, I can share them in a different way.

How do you overcome obstacles at work?

First, having the right perspective is key to learning from any set of circumstances. The perspective that’s helped me is remembering that consistency is the key to success. I try to push my limits just a little bit every day. It’s not necessary to do great things all at once. Keep on learning every day, every hour.

GLOBIS actually gave me this sense of improvement. My mindset completely changed after GLOBIS! I am definitely more confident that I can break down any problem and find solutions.

Second, it’s important to have people to talk to. I share my challenges with a small group of faithful friends and my mentor. They listen to my deep thoughts and give me feedback. Talking to them helps clear my mind and refocus.  

Third, remember to bless the tough moments, because those are the ones we learn from.

A stone Loro Piana retailer with a flower planter outside.
Loro Piana luxury store in Sankt Moritz, Switzerland. AndreaAstes @iStock

How has COVID-19 changed things?

When Loro Piana introduced remote work as an option back in 2019, everyone in Japan insisted it would never work because of Japanese working culture. Once coronavirus forced people to work from home, everyone learned there are different ways to deliver excellence.

Empowering more people through remote work led to new possibilities. Society is changing, and as leaders we need to have a long vision. We can’t just follow the way we’ve always done things. Changes are possible everywhere in the world. Leaders need to break free of stereotypes and push the boundaries to find those changes.

You’re also passionate about photojournalism. Does this relate to your work in any way?

I don’t think they’re that different, really. Photojournalism is like business—you need to collect information, put together facts, and deliver a story.

In both my professional career and photojournalism, creativity is the secret to success. Creativity pushes us to take risks, explore new territories, and think outside the box. When you creatively challenge yourself, you’re starting a journey. You never know where you’re really heading, but that’s the beauty of life.