How the power players do it - by Fortune senior editor at large Patricia Sellers

Power Point: Be agile in uncertain times

June 26, 2009: 6:54 PM ET

"Right now, nothing is more important than a nimble, agile leader, who is comfortable with ambiguity and figuring it out as they go along."

--Avon (AVP) President Liz Smith, in a discussion led by Pattie Sellers at NYU today. The panel, which also included Cece Sutton, Morgan Stanley's (MS) new retail banking president, was hosted by Forte Foundation. (To view video of the dialogue, click here.)

Smith and Sutton, both on Fortune's Most Powerful Women list, talked about how the global recession has altered what they seek in the talent they recruit. Smith values flexibility and a certain comfort with not knowing what tomorrow will bring--because more than ever, who can predict? Management, she said, has become "less strategic planning than scenario planning: 'If this, then what?'"

It's also more important than ever to be "completely transparent in order to take your people along on the journey," Smith said. Sutton agreed, adding: "People who are successful now are great operators: Know the business and be in the weeds." --Jessica Shambora

Fortune's Most Powerful Women
Fortune's Most Powerful Women For the latest on the most influential women in business, philanthropy, government, and the arts, like us on Facebook.
Guest Posts
Fortune Most Powerful Women Fortune Most Powerful Women The rolodex that redefined power
Profile in The Washington Post
Sheryl Sandberg: Sheryl Sandberg: Don't leave before you leave
COO of Facebook
Wendy Clark Wendy Clark Exec learns firsthand how the homeless live
SVP of the Global Sparkling Brand Center at Coca-Cola
Marissa Mayer's 3 biggest decisions as Yahoo CEO With company stock up over 100% since she began running the company 16 months ago, Mayer reflects on her choices to date. Watch
Chelsea Clinton on running for office: 'I don't know' The vice chairman of the Clinton Foundation talks about her diverse career path and growing up in the spotlight. Watch
MPWomen go Global

The Fortune/U.S. State Department Global Women Leaders Mentoring Partnership brings rising-star women from countries around the world to the U.S. for three-week mentorships with participants of the annual Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit - among them Ursula Burns of Xerox, Laura Lang of Time Inc., Marissa Mayer of Yahoo, and Tory Burch.

Read more

Current Issue
  • Give the gift of Fortune
  • Get the Fortune app
  • Subscribe
Powered by VIP.