By MH Staff - Posted on 26th November 2013
Ralph Gilles, 43-year old senior VP of product design at Chrysler and CEO of the SRT brand, on building a success squad
“Give-a-shitness,” gumption, spirit: that's what I'm looking for in each member of my team in every aspect of the business, from designing to manufacturing to marketing. You have to really care about the car project you are working on. That kind of attitude can help create vision alignment and a value system that's self-reinforcing and leads to obscene collaboration.
One of my faults early in my career was not being vocal enough. I didn't think I'd earned enough stripes. Now if I see or sense that anyone is holding back, I tell them to speak up. That said, I've also learned to take a deep breath and count to 10 before I open my mouth. What comes out will always be smarter.
I mentor eight people, none of whom work directly for me, and I encourage all our staff to meet with people not in their normal orbits. Leaders love criticising and talking shop, and you will be surprised who will meet with you if you ask. This kind of skip-level meeting can help you figure out what you stand for, what your strengths are, and ultimately what your brand is. For me, it's team building.
Micromanaging is dangerous. I'm involved at the start of a project to make sure the team is heading in the right direction. Then I rappel out and trust the members to execute. But I still like to buzz the studio. I drop down at night sometimes when no one's around and look at the clay designs. I've been known to leave suggestions on Post-its – signed, of course!