Hot on the heels of Indra Nooyi's star-studded event in celebration of the end of her twelve years as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, Amazon announced that she had joined their company's board of directors. Amazon shareholders have been pressuring the company to diversify their board to include more women in their search for new members, and in response, Amazon secured a spot with a leadership luminary. Nooyi is the embodiment of a genuine heart-centered leader. During her chapter with PepsiCo, Nooyi's mandate was "Performance with Purpose." She had a steadfast focus on realizing healthy profits, while utilizing a solid moral compass to lead the way. It's a brave and bold leadership approach that advocates doing the right thing -- even when it might be easier or faster to do otherwise.
Nooyi is also astute in her ability to tune into the hearts and minds of the people who work for her. If a leader doesn't clearly see the value of compassionately tapping into the human element, they will most likely hit a wall at some point in their career. Focusing on an employee's whole self and creating an environment of trust and support will undoubtedly allow each person to tap into their talent and distinct abilities to the benefit of the organization they work for, as well as everyone associated with it. Operating this way is not only enriching and fulfilling, but ironically, as Nooyi can attest to, it's also the most enduring -- and yes, profitable -- approach to business.
The following quotes highlight a few examples of Indra Nooyi's wisdom and her heart-centered approach to leadership. Through deeds and words, Nooyi is undeniably forging a new, more enlightened path forward for leaders of tomorrow.
They need what you need -- building a culture of trust.
In a recent oGoLead podcast interview, Nooyi offered the following advice, "The one thing I've learned is don't lie to the people. Don't tell your people one thing when the reality is something different." In other words, having the courage to tell the truth is non-negotiable. A heart-centered leader embraces openness and honesty. If you are not able to provide information when asked, you must be willing to explain why you aren't at liberty to share that information. No matter what situation, exceptional leaders adopt the "we're all in this together" approach.
Stay in equanimity.
On the topic of managing uncertainty, Nooyi famously advised to "stay calm during turbulent times," and espouses that upheaval can lead to rewarding transformation. Of course, courage under fire can be difficult, to say the least. In our workshops, we teach ways in which you can remain in a state of equanimity (referring to a state of cool-headedness) during a crisis. Why is this important? Equanimity represents the ability to function as the still, "eye of the storm" during high-impact, high-stakes interactions with people and allows you to remain in that state of calm. You can also instill a sense of security in others when you are able to get on board with your associates by asking for their opinions and help during tough times. Ultimately, you must strive to let go and trust them to make good decisions.
Listen mindfully, welcome feedback, and accept support.
In 2018 Nooyi wrote an open letter to her associates offering a wealth of parting advice, including, "...be good listeners. When someone gives you feedback, assume positive intent. Assume they're genuinely trying to help. Think their words over, and be willing to challenge your assumptions. I promise, it will make you better associates and better people." Sound advice. Be sure to practice active listening, and remember that every opinion counts, whether you agree with it or not. Finally, be open to allowing others to lend a hand to help. Nooyi maintains that "If you don't develop mechanisms...with everybody around you, it cannot work...Being a CEO for a company is three full-time jobs rolled into one."