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Lessons In Leadership: Interview with CEO Global Network Member Dimitry Toukhcher, President & CEO, LGFG Fashion House

May 1st, 2017

As one of the world’s largest ‘tailors that come to you’ bespoke suit, shirt and shoe brands, LGFG Fashion House is at the forefront of the international fashion and tailoring scene. LGFG currently serves clients in more than 15 countries on 3 continents. The company’s goal is to become the industry’s international leader and a household name in luxury, and expand into 30 more countries over the next 10 years.

Has your leadership style changed since you launched LGFG in 2010, and if so, how?

I’m acting with more decisiveness and purpose in what’s right and what’s wrong for the culture of our company, because that is what will drive our sustainability and growth.  When you’re a young leader, you tend to question yourself, even when your intuition is strong. At this point I am not only more trusting of my intuition, I also act on it much quicker and with more decisiveness.

What inspired you to start LGFG?

Feeling held back in the ‘corporate world’. As a recent graduate, I had spent a lot of time independently studying leadership and running a fairly successful summer business. When I went into the workforce, I felt like I was being held back, rather than encouraged to grow into my full potential. This inspired me to create an environment where people wouldn’t feel that way. It’s very important to me that we give our people the tools and inspiration to grow and reach their potential. 

What was the greatest obstacle you faced in building your company?

I think the obstacle is always the same – it’s attracting and retaining top talent while ensuring that talent is culturally aligned with the vision of the company. Sometimes that can lead to tough decisions, like letting someone go who may be good at their job but who needs to be ‘selectively abandoned’ in the interests of the company as a whole because they don’t fit with the vision for our culture.

How do you encourage creative thinking with your company?

In my experience, creative thinking comes from 2 places:

1. People who really care about their company. If we provide reasons for people to be passionate about what we’re doing, they will naturally spend independent time thinking about how to improve the company – and the core of creative thinking is about improvement now and for the future.

2. Give people an avenue to express their thoughts constructively. I try to make myself open and available to anyone in the company whenever they request my time. Having said that, I also try to establish a clear understanding that change for the sake of change isn’t the outcome we seek. Change needs to be driven by positive impact in one way or another while maintaining a shared interest to the company vision.

How do you keep your employees engaged and motivated?

First and foremost, I don’t think you can teach motivation. You need to find the right people. So rather than ‘making people motivated’ we look for people who are already motivated – and motivated for the right reasons and who have a solid moral compass. Engagement is a different thing – we can drive that with the right balance between work and learning. LGFG is very much a learning environment. Aside from our internal training on personal growth and principled decision making (and life-living) which happen three times per week, our up-and-coming leaders also receive dedicated time with a life coach each month, and our more advanced leaders have time each month with a high-level leadership coach. This is central to the core vision of our company, that people here aren’t just here to work, they’re here to grow.  

What are the ‘core values’ of your organization?

We recently had a leadership series on “what are our core values?” where we discussed the ‘words’ which define us – both internally and externally. Internally, our core values were expressed by ‘Grit, Growth, and Accountability’. These words refer to how we don’t give up, how we always make decisions to drive our growth, our abundance thinking, and how we take personal responsibility for our actions (which makes it OK to fail.)

Externally, the words were ‘Quality, Convenience and Expertise’ which are the core values we want our clients to define us by. Even though we have taken very intentional action to communicate and practice these principles, we realize this is something that needs to be happening consistently in order to not dilute either our culture or our brand, both of which are the driving factors of our success. 

What is one characteristic that you think every leader should possess?

The ability to confront others and themselves with a clear purpose and not allow their message be diluted.

What is the biggest mistake you think a leader can make? 

Having an inability to say ‘no’ (and following up with action when ‘no’ is not accepted at face value). I’ve made this mistake before. I thought I was being compassionate, but the reality is that an organization with a purpose needs decisive leadership in order to grow. Learning to say ‘no’ and following up on it with action is the hardest thing I’ve had to learn and it’s the biggest mistake I want our people to avoid. 

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