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How Avon’s CEO got ding-donged

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in Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

Avon executive Deborrah Himsel did not anticipate the flameout of her CEO, corporate superstar Andrea Jung.

“If anyone seemed immune to failure, it was she,” Himsel says. Yet, multiple challenges at Avon—new business models, global strategies and technology—took Jung down.

  • She excelled in only one area, marketing, and gave short shrift to operations. CEOs need mastery of at least two functions.
  • Her bench wasn’t deep enough. When she lost her operations chief, there was no successor in the pipeline.
  • She got stale. Leaders typically bring energy and verve to a top spot for up to 10 years. Jung’s 13-year term may have been too long, underscoring succession planning.

— Adapted from Beauty Queen: Inside the Reign of Avon’s Andrea Jung, Deborrah Himsel, Palgrave/MacMillan.

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