At $70.61, Lululemon Athletica (LULU) shares are up 51% in the past year. They've more than quintupled in the past three years.
So what is CEO Christine Day doing right?
I mean communities of loyal customers, loyal employees, and everyday fans of a corporate culture that you feel when you walk into a Lululemon store.
My colleague Jennifer Reingold interviewed Day at the 2012 Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit, and the session was one of the highest-rated by our participants. That's because Day, who is No. 45 on Fortune's international MPW list, shared take-home ideas that can be applied to any business--if a CEO is free-thinking enough to, as she says, "turn the management model upside down."
Here's what the Lululemon chief does differently from the typical boss:
1. Teach judgement, not process or rules. Day and her executive team give store managers and other employees unusual leeway to be creative and "own" their area of the business. She says she wants to provide "jobs big enough for people"--so that employees feel stretched, not squandered, and believe that they can make meaningful contributions.
2. Be authentically local. "I'm not the big brain making all the decisions," Day notes. Store managers create their own Facebook (FB) pages, decorate their stores as they wish (no plan-o-grams!), and do what they want to build their community. Of course, entrepreneurialism involves risk, but if the CEO carries the culture properly, the company benefits.
3. Success is about being best to market, not first to market. Lululemon has expanded cautiously—resulting in steady growth and healthy profit margins. Before opening a new store, management spends two years laying the local groundwork, such as helping exercise-minded locals build businesses alongside Lululemon to create yoga ecosystems.
Watch the interview with Day at the Fortune MPW Summit.
Since she arrived from Starbucks (SBUX) in 2008, Christine Day has done a remarkable job building Lululemon (LULU). Once just a retailer for yoga enthusiasts, Lululemon is now a fast-growing lifestyle brand. The stock has more than tripled in three years.
Day has never put herself in the spotlight, but Fortune's online readers clearly recognize how effective she is. The results of our just-released Businessperson of the Year poll show that MOREPatricia Sellers - Nov 17, 2011 3:59 PM ET
What happens when influential women like Meg Whitman, Ellen Kullman - and a guy: Warren Buffett - get together? They share smart ideas and - forge unexpected new relationships.
FORTUNE -- Big topics -- the global economy, presidential politics, boardroom drama -- got plenty of airtime at Fortune's annual Most Powerful Women Summit in early October. Meg Whitman (No. 9), the new CEO of Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), outlined plans for calming the waters at MOREPatricia Sellers - Oct 25, 2011 5:00 AM ET
It's not about falling down. It's about getting back up. You learn that you can get back up and fail, and it's not fatal. That you can move on and even become stronger from that moment. It's about learning to take those risks. And it frees you up, so you're not afraid to fail.
I learned this when I didn't get a promotion that I was up for at Starbucks (SBUX). MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Nov 6, 2008 2:24 PM ET
"Know the moments when you have to step up on stage and lead the troops and be a person that people look up to. And then be the one who is the ember to everyone else's flame. That's when you're an effective leader -- when you learn to balance both roles."
--Christine Day, CEO of lululemon athletica (LULU), at Fortune's Most Powerful Women dinner in San Francisco in July. Day recalled MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Sep 11, 2008 2:53 PM ET
"Don't think of your career as being about balance within each phase, but across phases. When you think about having it all worked out within one phase, it gets very stressful. You look for that day of perfect balance, and it just never exists. I say, think of your career in phases. And be patient, because you never know what phase is coming."
-- Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, President, Asia Pacific and MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Aug 14, 2008 5:43 PM ET
The Most Powerful Women franchise, just a decade old, is already Fortune's second biggest after the Fortune 500. Amazing, isn't it? This fact attests to the power of women in a year when so many powerful women - including Hillary Clinton and Morgan Stanley's (MS) Zoe Cruz and Lehman Brothers' (LEH) Erin Callan - got so close to the top and then fell. Even so, the power of women in business MOREPatricia Sellers - Jul 25, 2008 2:16 PM ET
We're expanding our Most Powerful Women coverage this year to spotlight rising stars whom we think have a good chance to be on our annual list someday. I'll be interviewing three of them at an upcoming MPWomen dinner in San Francisco.
Fortune reporter Jessica Shambora, who is handling the MPWomen list research this year, asked our three panelists for their definition of power. Their responses reflected common themes around the ability MOREPatricia Sellers - Jul 18, 2008 12:05 PM ET
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