For many years, Filippo Passerini has evangelized a key competency that\u2019s becoming an absolute necessity for IT executives: anticipation.\nIt\u2019s one of the many things that elevates the longtime Procter & Gamble executive to the highest echelon of CIOs. For one, he\u2019s been so successful in anticipating \u2014\nblending a compelling mix of gut instincts, business acumen, and, of course, a healthy dose of data analytics \u2014 which trends would impact his business. So much so, perhaps, that many people can\u2019t fathom the idea when they hear him talk about it. For them, it\u2019s impossible to attain \u2014 they simply can\u2019t imagine envisioning the future.\nSo it didn\u2019t come as much of a surprise to find out he\u2019s been doing a little anticipating in his career planning, as well. Passerini had decided that when a few criteria come together, he would step away from P&G. He wanted to complete his mission, he wanted to maintain his thirst for knowledge and personal growth, and he didn\u2019t want to stay too long.\nLate last year, that time came, and the company announced he would step down in June 2015. Notice that we\u2019re not using the term \u201cretirement\u201d here \u2014 that might be the technical designation P&G puts on it, but Passerini doesn\u2019t plan to slow down.\nDuring our recent conversation with him, Passerini spoke excitedly about his future, as opposed to highlighting his past accomplishments at P&G. He focused most of his energy, though, offering advice to the next generation of corporate executives.\nCharacteristics of great leaders\nIn his eyes, great leaders carry a few notable and distinct characteristics. They might sound simple to the casual observer, but the context he puts behind them offers aspiring leaders a formidable checklist to pursue (in addition to anticipation): Discipline, vision and passion.\n\u201cWhenever I came across a person who was not effective, I could always trace back to at least one of these characteristics,\u201d Passerini said. \u201cIf people have these, they will be successful, always.\u201d\nDiscipline, he said, is one of the more undervalued traits of leadership. It\u2019s about operating with excellence. It\u2019s about completing what we do to the last mile. It\u2019s at the very heart of how successful leaders operate.\nVision is one of the more misunderstood values, he said. Too often, we decide that one person is more successful than another because we think they have a vision. Passerini boils it down to the way people think \u2014 it\u2019s more about creativity mixed with anticipation, and how they strike the right balance between what is possible and what is not.\nPassion, Passerini said, is, in fact, something that you can cultivate, despite many who say that people either have it or they don\u2019t. When people ask Passerini how they can harness their passion, he asks them what they think about when they\u2019re driving, or when they stand in the shower. Where does your mind go? Answer that question, he said, and you\u2019ll be halfway there.\nWhat\u2019s next for Passerini?\nSo where does Passerini plan to channel his passions post-P&G? Another corporate officer role isn\u2019t in the cards, but working with private equity certainly is, as is taking on selective consulting projects.\n\u201cIt is great in life to have the opportunity at some point to welcome new possibilities,\u201d Passerini told us, just a few short months before his exit. \u201cI am very, very fortunate to have the possibility to do that, and\u2026I feel very, very good about it.\u201d\nBut it won\u2019t all be new. He\u2019ll continue serving on the board of United Rentals, the $5.69 billion construction rental equipment company for which he\u2019s been a director since 2009. And he\u2019s open to taking on more board opportunities.\nHe\u2019ll also continue to teach at an impressive array of graduate programs and business schools, a passion of his over the last several years.\nThat\u2019s another part of Passerini\u2019s repertoire that we\u2019ve always appreciated: not only is he a lifelong learner, but he\u2019s been eager to help educate up-and-coming leaders in whatever ways he can. That\u2019s one of the reasons we were so pleased that Passerini agreed to be part of our book, Confessions of a Successful CIO.\nAnd thinking back to that interview almost two years ago in the context of Passerini\u2019s current transition, we were struck by another anecdote of his: When Passerini thought his career at P&G was over.\nBack in 1991, he moved to the United Kingdom to tackle his first leadership assignment at P&G. One of Passerini\u2019s first orders of business was to lead the rollout there of P&G new order-to-cash system, a critical initiative for the massive consumer packaged goods company.\nLong story short: the project was a failure \u2014 so bad, in fact, that Passerini went home and told his wife they probably needed to move back to Italy, since his career at P&G was probably over.\nThat didn\u2019t happen. Instead, Passerini went on to become head of one of P&G global divisions and one of the most celebrated CIOs in history. As he prepares to leave P&G on his own terms, we\u2019ll be looking forward to what his discipline, vision and passion will generate next.