Leading with Strategic Thinking

(Co-authored by Aaron K Olson and BK Simerson, Wiley 2015)

This is one in a series of leadership profiles drawn from our new book, Leading with Strategic Thinking, highlighting what the most strategic leaders do differently.

José Ignacio Sordo and P&G’s Latin America Merger with Gillette


In early 2005 Procter & Gamble agreed to acquire Gillette in an effort to combine many of the world’s top brands. José Ignacio Sordo was asked to lead the integration and transformation of P&G’s Latin America IT organization following the merger. For José Ignacio, this was an opportunity to lead. The goal was clear but the way forward was not.

That would require José Ignacio and others to define a clear and structured approach to ensuring the merger’s success:

“My goal was not to create a team of doers . . . it was to create a team of leaders.  A team of leaders was essential to P&G’s success, a team of leaders willing to make the tough call, willing to do the right things for the right reasons. Our approach was designed to foster leadership, not a team of followers waiting for their next set of directives, guidance, or orders. Throughout the process, leaders along with all the other members of the team must remain fast, speedy, nimble.”

José Ignacio was practicing what we call directive leadership, driving strategy through structure and process.  He didn’t always tell others what to do, but he made it extremely clear what needed to be done and what the conditions for success were.  Like other directive leaders we’ve interviewed, José Ignacio saw himself as building a system. They set direction, establish clear governance for making decisions, they find ways to motivate others, they monitor performance and they intervene when things go off the rails. These are the key actions of successful directive leaders. In our writing we use leaders like José Ignacio to bring this leadership style to life, showing what directive leaders do differently and how they compare to other types of leaders.

Leading with Strategic Leadership comes out on April 13, 2015.

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