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Leading From The Heart

Friday Reads

As you’ve most likely heard, Indra Nooyi recently stepped down as CEO of PepsiCo in October. Indra had a remarkable tenure with PepsiCo. She was CEO for 11 years and has been with the company for 24 years. During that time she accomplished more than most CEOs. Not only did she set a new strategy for PepsiCo, investing in healthy foods and beverages while outperforming comparable CPG companies, she also was an inspiring role model for women and mothers. In 2018 women represent just 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs. Indra represented the under-represented with intelligence, candor, and passion.

When I joined PepsiCo in 2011, there was a warmth to the PepsiCo culture that is hard to explain. It was competitive yet collaborative at the same time. I attribute a great deal of that culture to Indra. Indra had a unique way of sharing her personal side with the organization. She wrote letters to her employees every other week. The letters were sent out to all 300,000 employees around the globe via email. In her letters she would talk about what was going on in her life personally and professionally. She would speak candidly about sending her daughter off to college and just how hard that experience was for her. She shared with us the special connection she was able to build with her daughter on their week-long vacation together and how important it is for us to all make time for these moments. She also shared stories about employees that touched her personally. Her ability to build a connection with 300,000 employees most of whom she had never met was incredible. She built these authentic connections with her high levels of emotional courage and transparency.

Indra’s leadership style was uniquely steeped in transparency. I’ve always been inspired by her refreshingly honest interviews. When Indra was asked about work-life balance and if you can have it all as a mother and a CEO she said, “You die with guilt. You just die with guilt. My observation is that the biological clock and the career clock are in total conflict with each other. Total, complete conflict. When you have to have kids you have to build your career. Just as you’re rising to middle management your kids need you because they’re teenagers,” said Nooyi. “We’re screwed.”

Her candor on life as a working mother with a thriving career was priceless to me as a young mother. It helped me realize that this path forward isn’t going to be easy, but if I’m passionate about my work it can be a rewarding path. At The Center for Advanced Emotional Intelligence, Indra’s leadership style highlights all of the conditions we teach for advanced emotional intelligence:

  1. Minimum of Defensiveness and Arrogance
  2. Accurate Empathy
  3. Social Values
  4. Appropriate Transparency
  5. Emotional Courage
  6. Tolerance for Paradox and Ambiguity

The two that really stand out as huge strengths for Indra are emotional courage and appropriate transparency. Appropriate transparency embodies honest and open communication even when it is uncomfortable or makes one feel vulnerable. Appropriate transparency refers to sharing the appropriate amount at the appropriate time for the appropriate reason. Doing this takes emotional courage. We define emotional courage as doing what one knows is the right thing to do despite the fear one might have about doing it. It takes emotional courage to look inward and see the truth about oneself. Indra was masterful at harnessing the emotional courage she needed to create the uniquely strong culture at PepsiCo. I will miss watching Indra as CEO of PepsiCo but it will be interesting to see the impact her departure has on the culture at PepsiCo.

 

Below are links to some of my favorite interviews with Indra:

Why PepsiCo CEO Indra K. Nooyi Can't Have It All
I Wasn’t Stupid Enough to Say This Could Be Done Overnight
Five C's of Leadership with Indra Nooyi
Indra Nooyi Writes Emotional Letter to Staff After Stepping Down as PepsiCo CEO

The Center for Advanced Emotional Intelligence provides executive coaching and organizational consulting services to senior and emerging leaders who are seeking to optimize their leadership effectiveness and mobilize strong organizations.

 

To learn more about our programs, visit us at: www.advancedeq.com .

The Center for Advanced Emotional Intelligence provides executive coaching and organizational consulting services to senior and emerging leaders who are seeking to optimize their leadership effectiveness and mobilize strong organizations.

To learn more about our programs, visit us at: www.advancedeq.com .

 

 

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