Postcards

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

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