P&G CEO Bob McDonald Outlines Lessons for Leaders in Talk at Yale SOM
Bob McDonald, chairman, president, and CEO of Procter & Gamble, started his career in the military. He enrolled in West Point, motivated by the military's commitment to service. After serving in the Army, he joined P&G, inspired by the purpose of the company, to, as he said, "touch and improve lives." Now that he heads one of the world’s largest corporations, he said he is still following the same values that have guided him his entire life. "At West Point, they have a saying: Choose the harder right rather than the easier wrong," he said. "This collection of words can guide just about any situation in life. If you’re doing something that seems really, really easy, you’re probably doing something wrong."
McDonald, who was named president and CEO nearly a year ago (assuming the chairmanship earlier this year), spoke on March 23 as part of the SOM Leaders Forum lecture series. His talk centered on leadership and the lessons he’s learned working at a company with more than 4 billion customers. He walked the audience through 10 major values he’s held for more than 25 years, which guide every decision he makes. They include "living a life driven by purpose"; character is the "most important trait in a leader"; it’s not enough to treat someone as you’d want to be treated, you need to "other people as they want to be treated"; and the true test of a leadership is "how an organization performs when the leader is not there." While he didn’t offer any single piece of advice for future leaders, he made clear that no one achieves what they want if they wait around for it. "Too often people go through life being controlled by events around them rather than controlling them," he said.