“Ensuring positive diversity practice is critical to attracting the best.”
“We look at a 10–15-year development plan for our high-potential people. This looks at their children, their schools, their spouse’s job, ageing parents – anything that affects where they will be comfortable working. That way we can build opportunities to develop their careers in tandem with their personal lives.” From DiversityInc magazine
Indra Nooyi is the woman leader number 7, in my series of Women and 12 Leadership Styles. She represents The Facilitator/ Achiever dilemna, with a strong preference for the Facilitator.
Because, in terms of ranking, she is at number one of the most powerful corporate leaders in the world.
“She has been chief executive of PepsiCo since 2006, but has effectively been helping to drive its strategy since 2001, when she became president and chief financial officer for the group. Born in Chennai, Nooyi took an MBA at the Indian Institute of Management in Kolkata, and worked for two years for Johnson & Johnson in Mumbai, before crossing the Atlantic in 1978.” (from Women at the Top –Financial times).
- Secondly, The facilitator
However, she communicates with a strong preference for the Facilitator’s style of leadership and strongly advocates the Facitator’s values. Let’s look at 3 key values: Team Spirit, Simplicity and Loyalty.
- Indra Nooyi is famous for her Team Spirit. Nooyi attributes her success to her employees. She says:
“PepsiCo is like my extended family and I believe that to top the speed of competition an entrepreneur should attract the best employees. ”
She’s also famous for having studied videotapes of the final championship games Michael Jordan played for the Chicago Bulls for learning more about teamwork.(from bloomberg business week)
- What strikes me is her simplicity and warmth. She seems to be very at ease being simply herself in very different contexts. At Pepsi Co, she has long been known for patrolling the office barefoot, singing in the halls. In college Indra Nooyi was part of an all-girl rock band where she played guitar and sang songs. She still does and is involved into arts. Did you know that she was on the board of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts?
She’s integrating both logical and emotional parts of herself and does it with authenticity and humour. It’s very easy to connect with her and identify with her as a woman. That’s why she’s such an exceptional, ordinary role model for next generation women!
- Her sense of Loyalty towards the USA, where she arrived to study at Yale in 1978.
“Although I’m a daughter of India, I’m an American businesswoman. My family and I are citizens of this great country. This land we call home is a most loving and ever-giving nation — a Promised Land that we love dearly in return. And it represents a true force that, if used for good, can steady the hand — along with global economies and cultures.” At Columbia University Business School’s Graduation Ceremony.
How did she integrate both the Indian and the American culture?
Here’s what Indra Nooyi says, about reconciling the demands of her position with her heritage that’s based on a woman always putting domestic values first, in a DiversityInc interview:
” It’s something my mother used to tell me. She said: “They can take away the CEO from you, but they can’t take the woman away from you, they can’t take your husband away from you, they can’t take your children away from you. So don’t forget that– don’t forget how you have to be anchored in your family.” Honestly, I’m not sure how I can be a CEO without being a wife, a mother and a daughter. Because that’s who I am at my core.
I love my family, so I work hard to make sure that part of my life that makes me who I am is always true. I work at it.”
Finally, as always with this model, the added value is to compare with the opposite style and see how the dynamic tension is managed.
The Dilemna here is between the Facilitator and the Achiever, profiled with tough new yorker no nonsense style, Ursula Burns.
Even when she talks about “forcing the representation, forcing the numbers”, she does it in an inclusive and facilitation way!
” If you call it a quota system, it sounds awful. Don’t call it a quota system.”
At the same time, Indra Nooyi says, apply the quota system! :
“We’re going to force representation, we’re going to force the numbers. You’ve got to start somewhere. In every programme in history it always started with a sort of mandate. It’s ok to have mandate. The world is 50% women, in fact 50,5 %, why can’t Davos be at least 20% women ? Not a bad goal at all.”
” We’ve got to figure out ways to create programmes that women feel included in.”
“I Will Write My own Rules as CEO!” This could sound awfully dictatorial, and in her mouth, it’s like lotus flowers! She really communicates with ease, integrity and grace in her Facilitator’s style.
Who else do you know who could represent this leadership style?
How does this style resonate with you? What can you learn from it? What would you need to develop, or “stretch” in order to communicate better?
Sometimes, all it requires to change is self-awareness and a baby-step towards improvement. It then can have ripple effects…
I really believe the approach I’m developing here on this blog, with the 12 leadership styles and the 12 women role models will help increasing self-awareness and encourage diversity.