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"Interest" trumps "skills" says Procter & Gamble top executive.

Procter & Gamble Top Exec Shares Views on Leadership.


In his illustrious business career, Manuel "Manny" Gonzalez has been the leader of literally thousands of employees.

For the last 22 years, he has held various marketing and sales leadership positions at Procter & Gamble (P&G), one of the most respected companies in the world, with annual sales of over $82.6 billion dollars. Mr. Gonzalez has served as Regional Director of Latin America, for one of the company's leading global teams. He also has the distinction of being the first Hispanic in Customer Business Development to achieve a General Manager level position on the North American regional business, as head of Innovation and Operations, and later named as a Vice President of the Company.

Today, Mr. Gonzalez is a Vice President of Global Operations in P&G's Global MDO unit and also serves, having been appointed by the Secretary of Commerce, on the Industry Trade Advisory Committee for Consumer Goods where he is Vice-Chairman.

Mr. Gonzalez was well-prepared for leadership roles. He was Salutatorian of his Miami Jackson High School (Florida) class and an All-County and All-State first team cross-country runner. He later went on to earn an undergraduate degree from Cornell University, a master's degree in Public Policy/International Finance concentration from Harvard University in 1989 where he was a Kennedy Fellow, and was also a Pembroke College scholar at Oxford University in England.

His philosophy of leadership has developed over the years. "Leadership is all about how you make others feel," he says. "A good leader inspires people and enables them to discover confidence in themselves."

This proven leader describes three attributes of a successful person that every leader should aspire to cultivate in team members:

  • Passion. "Crystallize what you're passionate about," Mr. Gonzalez says. "People fall into traps in their careers and in their personal lives when they lose self-awareness concerning what they're passionate about."
  • Purpose. Take your passion and turn it into purpose. "If my passion is making sick people healthy, how do I do that?" he says. "Or, if I want to improve consumers' lives, how do I achieve that? Give a purpose to your passion."
  • Persistence. Mr. Gonzalez points to successful leaders in government, business and other endeavors who stay the course no matter what the obstacles. "Make sure that you never become overwhelmed or discouraged by obstacles or failures," he says. "Winston Churchill said 'Success is going from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm' and I think there is much truth in that statement."

Successful people often have stumbled, he reports. "Name me a successful person, and I will name you a person who failed while getting there: Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama, Michael Jordan, you name it," he says. "You don't fail if you learn a lesson and persist. Failure does not impede success, it leads to it.

"A good leader helps others find their passion, discover their purpose and exhibit the persistence it takes to be successful," he continues. "This starts with leading by example. You cannot be a good leader unless you yourself realize the importance of passion, purpose and persistence."

Mr. Gonzalez points out that self-awareness is absolutely essential to being a strong and effective leader. He also adds that gaining self-awareness is an on-going process. "You must continually grow in self knowledge, understanding your own drives and skills, in order to bring out the best in those who depend on you for guidance," he explains.

With almost a quarter-century of top performance and leadership on his stellar resume, Mr. Gonzalez is well aware of the importance of another desirable attribute: a positive attitude.

"A positive attitude increases your own and other people's energy and that's the start of something wonderful," he says. "When you have a positive attitude, it increases everyone's energy resulting in great communication and collaboration often yielding powerful results."

Mr. Gonzalez is Vice Chairman of the FIU Center for Leadership's Board of Advisors. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Zoological Society of Florida where he is Co-Chair of the Board Services Committee and is an active member of the Cornell and Harvard Alumni Associations. Mr. Gonzalez was a national Rhodes Scholar finalist having been nominated as such by the Florida Rhodes Scholar nominating committee in 1987.