My Keys to Career Success: Former Gillette CEO's Advice for Leaders

My Keys to Career Success: Former Gillette CEO's Advice for Leaders

Improve your leadership IQ. Check out James Kilts's take on the factors that truly matter to a leader's success, plus his advice for IT executives on the rise

James Kilts knows his way around being a high-profile leader: As chairman and CEO of Gillette, he oversaw a results-oriented renaissance at the consumer products giant before guiding the firm to a merger with Procter & Gamble in 2005. Prior to that, he served as CEO of Kraft Foods and Nabisco, with a stint between those roles as a visiting professor at the University of Chicago.

Kilts is now a founding partner at private equity firm Centerview Partners. In his upcoming book due out in September, Doing What Matters (Crown Business, written with John Manfredi and Robert Lorber), Kilts shares his lessons for current and aspiring leaders on what really matters to personal and business success.

We asked Kilts to share some of those lessons, plus specific advice for CIOs who'd like to be CEOs and for IT leaders who'd like to make the move to CIO.

Nine Factors That Really Matter For Success

1. Growth. It's healthy to have a "continuous dissatisfaction with the status quo," Kilts says.

2. Relationships. Don't underestimate the value of mentors, Kilts says.

3. Loyalty. colleagues with respect, and you gain credibility and trust, he says.

4. Small moments. Small actions on your part stay with subordinates, Kilts says.

5. Timely decisions. Don't delay action when a team member doesn't fit, he advises.

6. Do what you enjoy. The more you like your work, the more you'll excel, Kilts says

7. Life's early lessons. Do the right thing, he says.

8. The right team. Find good colleagues and keep them around you, Kilts says.

9. Confront reality. Sometimes the best manager can't fix a situation, he says.
Source: James Kilts

CIO: You praise the value of mentors. What advice do you have for aspiring leaders on the care and feeding of mentors?

Kilts: Find someone you really respect and who has the time for you, so it's a mutual thing. There's a fine line between having a mentor and a friend. Use their time efficiently. Be very organized. I've never been one to just socialize or see how things are going. Have an agenda for anything with your mentor.

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