Lessons From New P&G CEO, David Taylor

Lessons From New P&G CEO, David Taylor


On 1 November 2015, David Taylor officially stepped into the role of chief executive officer of Procter & Gamble. Joining P&G in 1980, David has helped to build many of P&G’s core businesses, including Baby Care, Family Care, Hair Care and Home Care. Most recently, David served as Group President of Global Beauty, Grooming and Healthcare. Prior to that, he was responsible for Family Care and Home Care, both of which delivered consistent double-digit profit and sales growth under his leadership.

P&G is transforming to be a faster-growing, more profitable company, and with a commitment to its strategies, David aims to lead the people of P&G to drive growth and create shareholder value.

He recently sat down with Bill Boulding, Dean of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, for a candid chat about his career journey and approach to leadership. Here are five insights he shared.

1. Truly listen, don’t just wait to speak

The ability to really listen and learn has helped David crystalize the importance of creating space for conversation, including dissension and disagreement. “I’ve come to really appreciate messy meetings where we disagree with each other respectfully, because out of that you often get a level of alignment that is so different from more of a command/control (model).

2. Especially listen to the person closest to the consumer or the problem

The power of having individuals in various regions of the world for a company like P&G is harnessed in a culture that accepts learning comes from the person who has the greatest understanding of the consumer need and marketplace, not necessarily the most impressive title on a business card. “The most impressive business card needs to be open to learn from everywhere and create the environment where great ideas can travel and have a chance to breathe.”

3. True innovation is almost always a team sport

While there are people who are brilliant, gifted and have great insight, those qualities alone don’t necessarily lead to innovation. Instead, in David’s experience innovation often “comes from learning from others and a lot of things that failed first.”

4. You are never too high in the hierarchy to stop learning

At one point in his career, David was leading a plant of almost 1300 people. However, he felt long-term he needed to have a better understanding of brand management, so he accepted a position in P&G as an assistant brand manager, working alongside and learning from recent MBA graduates.  “In addition to being a great way to learn the business it was a fabulous lesson in humility and how to come back and really listen and learn.”

5. Find your passion by thinking about what you do in your free time

David was an engineering major at Duke, but he found that in his free time he wasn’t building things but reading business publications and volunteering with mentoring programs like Big Brothers Big Sisters.  That led him to look for a company where he could use the problem solving skills he had learned in engineering while working to develop and mentor people. “I truly believe it starts with self-reflection. What is it that gets you excited?  And it’s been very helpful to me to look at what I do when I’ve got free time.”

What do you think?

Does David Taylor’s journey to CEO inspire you? His humble and authentic approach to leadership is impactful. Comment your views below and join the conversation.

Interested in watching the full interview? Click here.

This article was written by Jelena Milutinovic on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources were used to compile this article: LinkedIn and Procter & Gamble

Image credit: LinkedIn

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