Indra Nooyi Leadership Style – The Five C’s of #Leadership
This article is about Indra Nooyi leadership style and has been written by Russell Bowyer.
The Subject of Indra Nooyi Leadership Style came about as a result of looking at successful women and ‘Women in Business‘. With this week being about World Women’s Day (8th March 2017), I wanted to focus on successful women in business. I am also very interested in intrapreneurs in business too. I would class Indra Nooyi as an intrapreneur working for Pepsico.
Indra Krishnamurthy Nooyi is an American business executive and is the current Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo. Indra Nooyi was originally born in India. She moved to America in 1978 at which time she was admitted to Yale School of Management.
She talks about how she flunked part of the exams there in relation to communication skills. With communication being one the the ‘Five C’s‘ of her leadership skills, this was a valuable lesson to her.
Nooyi is just one of 12 female CEOs in the Fortune 500. She has consistently ranked within the 100 most powerful women around the world. This list includes Angela Merkel and Hillary Clinton, both are ranked highly on the list.
PepsiCo is the second largest food and beverage business in the world by net revenue. The revenue in 2016 was $62.799 billion (£51.57 billion) and a net income of $6.329 billion (£5.2 billion).
PepsiCo…a huge global business
This colossal company employs 274,000 people across the globe. Making leadership a key focus for it’s CEO.
Indra Nooyi: “Women represent 70% of all the buying decisions around the world.”
A CEO of today is vastly different to the CEO of several years ago. CEO’s of today have to have leadership skills and an IQ. Indra also explains how they must also have a healthy dose of EQ, or the emotional side. Nooyi explains that millennials want to come to work for a company today that cares about them. They want to feel connected to the company.
So what has made Indra so successful in what she does? What leadership qualities does she have and what can we learn from her?
Indra Nooyi talks about the ‘Five C’s‘ of leadership, which are as follows:
Competency is required in order to remain ahead and abreast in your field
Nooyi considers being a ‘life-long student’ as important. Constantly learning and always refining her knowledge in that subject. She has said that she’s never done with studying and is always looking to continue in her education. Improving and expanding ones knowledge on a consistent basis guarantees personal and professional growth.
Indra Nooyi Leadership Style: “Remain ahead and abreast in your field.”
This means you master your skill but never shy away from knowing more. This creates self-confidence without being arrogant.
Nooyi is happy to speak out and says “establish your knowledge base and be confident in it as a leader.”
Unless you are known for something you don’t stand out from the pack.
Courage and confidence – Establish your knowledge base
Being at the top of a multi billion dollar corporation requires a high level of confidence. This confidence is required not only to obtain the top position in the first place, but then to command the respect and to remain in control.
Competence without confidence to speak-out is wasted. Indra Nooyi says, “what’s the point?”
It takes courage to lead people, and when Nooyi has nearly 300,000 employees to lead, this takes a huge amount of courage. A leader in a global corporation with millions of customers to satisfy.
Communication – Over-invest in written and oral communication
The number one leadership quality is communication. A good leader must have good communication skills to be top of their game.
Indra Nooyi Leadership Style: “You cannot over-invest in written and oral communication skills. Leaders constantly have to motivate the troops.”
Indra is able to communicated effectively and clearly with her team, but with confidence. Her friendly manner makes it easy for employees to warm to her. Plus, being a woman she has empathy with her coworkers, which means she will understand and respect their point of view. According to Indra, by nature women humanise themselves more because that’s they way they’ve been brought up. Women listen a lot more too.
Females have a huge advantage over men with an emotional intelligence enabling them to relate directly to their employees and consumers. Communication is not just about what she says either, it’s also about her being a good listener too.
In her interview in the video below she talks about speaking to bloggers. She took away more from her conversation with them than she contributed, she says.
Indra Nooyi Leadership Style: “Establish your knowledge base and be confident in it as a leader.”
The other part of communication is the non-verbal part. This means that Indra’s body language will convey confidence, and her eye contact will be engaging.
One of her ways of communicating with PepsiCo’s 300,000 employees is through her blog.
Consistency – Remain steady, reliable and determined
Leaders need to be consistent. You can change your mind, but do it against a consistent framework.
Being consistent with the people around you leads to security and trust. Nooyi maintains a consistent plan of action, which builds her employees confidence in her. Where there is a lack of consistency people around you will be second guessing what you are going to do next.
Remaining steady, reliable and determined allows for credibility and a baseline to measure your successes and failures
Compass – Integrity is critical
You can have all of the other ‘C’s’…you can be courageous, confidence and competent, with great communications skills, but without integrity the compass doesn’t point to true north. Without integrity everything around you will come crashing down.
Integrity is everything and respect is earned. Indra Nooyi sees integrity as a critical part of her leadership style. She also lives by good moral codes and she feels that every corporation owes society a duty of care. This is despite corporations operating under a limited liability umbrella.
With PepsiCo being larger than some countries around the world, their impact on people will be huge. Indra Nooyi explains how problems around the world need to be solved in partnership with governments and companies using public/private partnerships.
Capitalism without a conscience is dangerous. Ensure you work for the long-term and not just the short term, with a view to taking care of all stakeholders, not just the shareholders.
Indra Nooyi: “Companies should do better by doing better. Capitalism should have a conscience”
Related: “As engineering students at Queen’s University in Canada, we were challenged to build things not only faster and lighter. So I started thinking about ways to produce food more sustainably.” – Michele Romanow
With a good moral compass people know where they stand with you. You will be the person who they will trust. A person who is reliable.
Below is the full interview with Indra Nooyi. It is worth watching with a cup of coffee or tea.
Is Indra Nooyi’s Leadership Style akin to intrapreneurship?
Since writing this article on Indra Nooyi’s leadership style, I have done some research on Intrapreneurship. Looking at the definition of intrapreneurship, Indra Nooyi definitely falls into this category of leader. She certainly has confidence and she is definitely a self starter.
The other characteristics of an intrapreneur include being creative, determined and passionate. Listening to her interview in the above video, she certainly has all of these character traits too.
Many businesses, both large and small could learn a thing or two from PepsiCo and their support of such a leader. Whilst there are disadvantages to companies that encourage entrepreneurship, in PepsiCo’s case this is clearly not so. They’ve encouraged her leadership style and the company has benefited immensely from this.
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