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Good interview in USA Today with Procter & Gamble CEO A.G. Lafley, in which he discusses his leadership style. Excerpts:

On what makes him a strong leader…”One of my most important jobs is to build an outstanding team. I've been a change agent. I'm pretty courageous. I'm a builder and I think a lot about the greater good, the long term and whether what we're building today will last 10, 20, 50 years. I'm a thinker, but I'm action- and results-oriented. Finally, I'm a low-ego guy. I don't have problems putting the greater good of the company or the P&G brands way ahead of any personal aspirations or achievements.”

On his weaknesses… “I'm impatient. I have high standards and high expectations, and I expect everybody to be as committed as I am. I have a terrible habit of not being on time, especially for meetings. I want the record to show it is improving, but I believe in managing by walking around. That makes me late….Some people on the other end of the conversation think I'm overly demanding, but I don't think my personality or my tonality is mean-spirited. If I'm in the game, I want to compete to be the best.

On his people skills… “I hold people accountable. If they fall way short, it's the end of their career at P&G. That happens every year. This is not a ‘one strike and you're out.’ All failure is learning. We just want the learning to occur early, fast and cheap, not after billions of dollars are invested…I wouldn't say I'm nice. I don't like the word ‘nice.’ But I would say I care about people, even people who fail. Failure just means that they have to decide what they're going to do next.”

On what distinguishes top leaders… “One is uncompromising integrity. I mean that in the moral sense, but I also mean it in the sense of thinking integrity and action integrity. They think with discipline and honesty. They sort through flattery, through politics, and see things as they are, come to grips with reality, and then bring incredible integrity to the decision and the action. Second is courage. What separates talented people in the end is the courage to make the really hard call. A lot of hard calls are not tough because they are hard to figure out. They are tough because they have short-term sacrifice or emotional content that people don't want to deal with. It's human nature to avoid that kind of pain.”
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