“I think a lot of women CEOs actually can do pretty well in today’s environment. Because by nature we humanize ourselves a lot more, because that’s the way we’ve been brought up. And we listen a lot more.” -Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo
One of the 15 women running a Fortune 500 company is Indra Nooyi, the chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, which has the world’s largest portfolio of billion-dollar food and beverage brands, including 19 different products that each generate more than $1 billion in annual sales. Before becoming CEO, Indra served as president and CFO of the company. She has been listed one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World multiple times. Last year she was called the Most Powerful Woman in Business by Fortune. And perhaps what we admire most his her strategy for leading PepsiCo — Performance with a Purpose — which is focused on delivering sustainable growth by investing in a healthier future for people and our planet. There are five C’s that Indra has operated against her whole life, and a few weeks ago at BlogHer ’11 in San Diego, she opened up during a lunch-hour speech to share those very skills. Master these, and we have no doubt you could be the next Indra Nooyi or your own version of the most powerful woman in business.
The Five C’s of an Effective CEO
(In Indra’s words)
1 / Competence. Everyone should have a proper skill that everyone looks at and says, “XYZ is the go-to person for that skill.” Because unless you’re really known for something — and not just as a generalist — you don’t stand out from the pack. But in order to be competent in something you need to be a life-long student, because you’ve got to constantly refine your knowledge of that subject so that you remain ahead, and abreast, of everything that goes on in that field first.
2 / The second I’d say is courage and confidence. It’s a pair. You can be very, very competent, but if you’re not willing to speak out … If you’re not willing to have the confidence based on your knowledge, what’s the point? So, courage and confidence are very important.
3 / The third is communication skills. You cannot over-invest in communication skills — written and oral communications — because as a leader you constantly have to mobilize the troops. I can tell you when I first came to the United States I used to debate, and I used to be on debating teams. I used to speak so fast, because culturally I grew up in a land where people spoke very fast. Fortunately, Yale had the requirement that I was to pass a communications course, or I couldn’t transition from the first year to the second year of business school. I flunked the first time I took the communications course, so over the summer I took it again, which was the best thing that happened, because I learned to sync my brain with my output from my mouth. I learned to slow down with what I was saying. There was a huge difference. So, I encourage all of you to invest in communications skills.
4 / The fourth skill I’d say is consistency. It’s important that leaders are consistent. You can change your mind, but change your mind against a consistent framework. If you aren’t consistent, people will always second-guess what you do. So be consistent.
5 / And the last skill is your compass. Integrity is critical in this job. You can be competent, courageous, confident, a great communicator and consistent, but if you don’t have integrity – if the compass doesn’t point true north — everything else crashes down, as we’ve seen in recent times.