Leadership Qualities of Indra Nooyi

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Leadership Qualities of Indra Nooyi

Indra Nooyi has been at Pepsi for 17 years. PepsiCo is currently the biggest food and beverage company in North America, and Indra holds the reins as CEO. She manages a corporate family of over 300,000 employees. It’s not surprising that she is a valued and influential leader in the business world. During her career, Indra explains that she has held to her 5 C’s Model of Leadership. Her five C’s of leadership are competency, courage, confidence, communication skills and compass.  She is also ranked #2 on Fortune’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business list. In studying her leadership style, there are three consistently noticeable qualities that have enabled her growth as a leader and her success.

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Table of Contents

Leadership Qualities of Indra Nooyi:


Indra Nooyi lists communication skills as one of the Five C’s of Leadership. She has explained that competence, courage, confidence and a strong moral compass go to waste without strong communication skills. What does it matter if someone is innovative on a subject if they can’t clearly discuss it? In Indra’s words “You cannot over-invest in communication skills.” In addition to listing communication as a key skill for leadership, Indra has received communication training to improve her abilities and flexes those communication muscles every time she makes a public appearance, meets with her C-Suite, and deals with a customer. In fact, communication is so valuable to Indra, that she maintains a blog at Pepsi where she talks to her employees via posts every other week.

Relationship Building

Indra goes beyond writing blog posts every other week to maintain a relationship with employees. She writes letters to their parents to thank them for their children. If that’s not a CEO building strong relationships, what is? In regards to relationships, Indra has said “If you only want people to help you when you need them and not have an ongoing relationship with them, they don’t know you, they don’t know where you come from, and they are doubtful whether you really are interested in the issue, or are you just trying to skate over a current problem?” (CNN). In maintaining a company relationship with the public, Indra has been in-tune with consumers needs for healthier snack and drink options, which has led to transformation in Pepsi’s product line. Relationship-building may not be part of Indra’s Five C’s of Leadership, but it is certainly one of her strengths.

A Moral Compass

Indra lives by moral codes and she feels every corporation owes society care. Indra points out that many companies are bigger than small countries. Organizations need to help society reach goals and solve problems. When discussing the choice to face the challenges at Pepsi during the economic collapse, rather than slash prices and bolt quickly, Indra explained   “Look, this is my company, this is my living, my livelihood. And 300,000 people in PepsiCo depend on PepsiCo for their life and their livelihoods. There are pensioners and investors out there who are hoping PepsiCo will remain a successful entity forever” (CNN Money). This is just one of many examples where Indra has turned to her moral compass and exercised strong emotional intelligence in making leadership decisions.

Indra herself had confessed that leadership is not easy “Leadership is hard to define and good leadership even harder. But if you can get people to follow you to the ends of the earth, you are a great leader” (Brainy Quote). The returns on building a better world are certainly worth the struggle. Like Indra, leaders who take the time to analyze methods of leadership and build communication skills are on a track for success.

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