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Hervé Coyco

The Learning Leader

4 June 2024

Once in a while you come across a person who embodies, in their thoughts and deeds, a kind of archetype or ideal form of a role – the great artist, the wise philosopher, the genius physicist. Hervé Coyco, for me, is the archetype of the best of business leaders. In our conversation he shares some of the wisdom, humility and practices which have made him such a successful leader and impressive human being.

Hervé spent his whole corporate career at Michelin – 30 years – where he started as an entry level engineer and rose to be the President of the Passenger Car Division – at the time, a 60,000 employee, 8 billion Euro/year business unit – before finishing as the President of Michelin Asia-Pacific Operations. In this podcast, Hervé and I discuss what he learned during that time. This includes what he sees as the three styles of leadership needed to succeed in different situations: the jet airplane pilot, the skipper of a boat and the coach. Next we turn to the leadership challenge of hitting short term performance and efficiency goals while simultaneously preparing the organisation for the future. This leads on to a discussion of the role of empowerment and managing failure – when to accept failure, the need to adopt a ‘no surprises’ policy with your own boss, and the importance of ethical and value alignment.

For the last 15 years, I have had the privilege of working with Hervé in his role as Professor at HEC-Paris. We conclude our conversation here with Hervé ’s reflections on what he has learned from his role as a program director of customised executive education at HEC – both about the academy but also about how leaders in some organisations fall short in their roles.

I have learned so much from Hervé about ethical and learning based leadership, I wanted to share his insights with you! I hope you enjoy the conversation!

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