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Indra Nooyi “Leadership in Times of Crisis”

Yesterday I had the privilege of spending an hour with the former Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo as she spoke with the global Vistage community.

Indra Nooyi

The title of her talk was “Leadership in Times of Crisis”.

Indra shared her 5 “C”s of leadership in organisations:

  1. Competence – “you have to have at least one ‘hip pocket’ skill, a unique competence that you gain a reputation for delivering on…”
  2. Courage and Confidence – you need people to follow you. People follow confidence.
  3. Communications Skills – especially in tough times, the ability to convey a vision that people want to follow… with authenticity, sincerity and passion.
  4. Curiosity – things are changing fast… you need to be a Life Long Learner… you need to be hungry to keep learning and adapting
  5. Compass – an inner personal compass that points to your true north… no matter what… you never lose sense of what is 100% north, what is right for you. Only 100% integrity counts as integrity… if you lose your true north under pressure… you might as well not have a true north.

Sam Reese asked Indra how she was able to convince PepsiCo to make a big strategic change when she first stepped up into the role as CEO, a move away from financial metrics… towards sustainability, towards investing in people for the long term. Indra shared that she keeps with her a poem that was written on a wall in her childhood school. She shared three lines from the poem…

“For men may come,
and men may go,
but I go on forever”

The poem is about a river… and the nature of its permanence beyond that of men.

Indra shared that she saw her role as CEO to build a company that would go on forever… not just for this generation of investors… or managers… or customers… but to be part of building an enterprise with true permanence.

How should CEOs be Measured?

In response to this question, Indra shared three metrics:

  1. Develop People
  2. Enduring Investments
  3. A Strategy that Endures

Just like the river of the poem, CEOs should be building something that will endure beyond this generation.

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