LIVED Leader: Helena Morrissey (CEO of Newton Investment Management)

“Everyone wants to be well managed: with clear goals, fair appraisals, and honest and constructive feedback.  More underrepresented groups will fulfil their potential if we get the basics right, and leaders can be enormously influential in emphasising how important that is – and ensuring this is understood throughout their line management, not something that is the preserve of specialist HR or diversity teams”.

How do these sentiments relate to your experiences in your organisation? The ‘basics’ of effective management, as described above, may come across as common knowledge and sense to most. What we are typically less aware of are the Values required to achieve these in a sustainable way, particularly when we are trying to generate a culture of innovative performance through greater diversity.

Helena Morrissey, the CEO of the London-based global investment management company Newton Investment Management Ltd, recognises this challenge more than most CEOs in the UK today. Her belief is that “diversity in thought” is driven by “diversity in perspective”, and this matches what we know from research about effective Intellect at a leadership level.

By this, we mean that being able to look at problems from a variety of creative perspectives simply leads to better business solutions. Helena has seemingly embedded this concept in to the culture at Newton Investment Management, which now manages over £50 billion in funds. Her belief that everyone’s input is valuable, and that the value of teamwork is enhanced by diverse perspectives, has driven her organisation to grow since she joined in 2001.

The value Helena assigns to fairness, equality and inclusion within her organisation is represented in activities beyond her own industry. Helena has been instrumental in founding and driving the 30% Club – an initiative backed by the UK government designed to increase the number of women at executive board level within the FTSE 100. When Helena formed the initiative, the number of women on boards was at 12%, whereas today in 2015 that figure is now 23%.

This is a significant achievement, albeit there is still some ground to be made before her target of 30% is realised. Having said this, Helena’s confident and principled nature serves as a significant LIVED leadership strength that drives her to make influential changes in the world of work around her. Research supports the fact that these changes are enhancing performance in organisations as well, eg Thomson Reuters (2013) found significant links between mixed-gender boards and increasing performance for shareholders (across 4,100 firms between 2008-2013).

The progress made in this area of Helena’s life hasn’t come about without resistance, nor the necessity for strengths in Learning from previous experience and applying it to further her work. For example, she explained to the Guardian that she had learned (from exposure to other businesses) it is not leaders at board level who need convincing that diversity is a “business issue… not a women’s issue”.

In fact, it is managers below board level who are typically resistant to the reality that organisations lose out commercially from a lack of gender and ethnic diversity. Learning is a critical dimension to the success of leaders in modern business, and Helena clearly demonstrates the reason why in this example. If she had not learned this, then her approach to improving diversity may well have continued to target the attitudes of board level employees rather than the whole organisation.

These characteristics make Helena an ideal role model for LIVED leaders of the future, who need to have an appreciation and orientation towards change if they are to thrive in the modern workplace. In particular, Helena argues that women in leadership positions need to role model the right kind of ambition and balance that can effectively deal with the stigmatic challenge of parenthood. To achieve this, she suggests appraisal processes and line management activities need to provide opportunities to discuss and alleviate blockers to this success by being open to flexible solutions. After all, Helena has clearly achieved this herself over the span of her career, being the mother of nine children of course!

Author: Jordon Jones

LIVED Leader: Indra Nooyi (CEO of PepsiCo)

“The distance between number one and number two is always a constant. If you want to improve the organisation, you have to improve yourself and the organisation gets pulled up with you. This is a big lesson. I cannot just expect the organisation to improve if I don’t improve myself…”

These intriguing and insightful words embody the most fundamental part of a&dc’s LIVED model of leadership: Learning. The current challenge of the contemporary workplace is to deal with the ever present and unpredictable potential for change. For leaders of any organisation, this implies that the ability to adapt to your surroundings and constantly evaluating your successes and failures is highly valuable.

So who said these words? Well, they are the sentiments and characteristics of PepsiCo’s current Chairperson and CEO, Indra Nooyi. Following her MBA graduation from the Indian Institute of Management in Calcutta, Nooyi’s career in business began in several positions as a brand product manager in India. Her passion for strategy drove her to the United States, and her reputation in this area made her a talent target for the likes of Jack Welch, the head of General Electric, at the same time as Wayne Calloway, then CEO of PepsiCo. Choosing to join the soft-drinks and food company placed Nooyi on a path towards becoming one of the world’s most powerful women in modern business.

The most clear elements of the LIVED model that can explain how Nooyi achieved this are Intellect and Drive. For example, she was responsible for PepsiCo spinning off its restaurant division (KFC, Pizza Hut etc.) in to another company. At this point, it became clear that her vision and passion for being in tune with consumers’ needs for healthier snack and drink options transformed Pepsi’s product line into a more profitable concept.

She drove forward the $3.3 billion-dollar-deal for the purchase of the Tropicana orange-juice brand in 1998, and two years later was part of the team that secured Quaker Oats for $14 billion (widely cited as one of the biggest deals in corporate history). Her bold and persuasive negotiation capabilities simply facilitated what was a shrewd analysis of the direction of the organisation, and how it needed to change in order to be successful in the future.

This particular change represents one of the core Values that make Nooyi a successful leader of people today. While the flagship brand, Pepsi, is not exactly the first product that springs to mind when you think of a fit lifestyle, Nooyi’s creative mantra “Performance with Purpose” explains that she aims to “bring together what is good for business with what is good for the world”. In this case, Nooyi sees gradual changes to PepsiCo products as providing the planet what it needs in healthier eating habits, while avoiding subtraction from the bottom line through brand popularity.

Another clear aspect of Nooyi’s successful leadership is her clear value for communication. She maintains a blog at Pepsi where she talks directly to her employees via posts every other week. This demonstrates a strength in utilising her Emotions to motivate and inspire her staff, fostering a mutual respect and greater commitment from employees.

Nooyi has also been known to further build positive relationships with her colleagues and staff by recognising them publicly and privately for their contributions to the company, doing so in some rather unique and creative ways. For example, Nooyi writes letters of gratitude to her employees’ parents, thanking them for nurturing and developing these people into positive contributors to PepsiCo’s success. She explained in a recent interview that, while her own mother was proud of her, she also witnessed family friends congratulate her mother for Nooyi’s career success. She realised this could enable her to “engage people with their hearts”, and has certainly been doing so ever since. It is this focus on the personal details, as well as the strategic, bigger picture, that makes Indra Nooyi an ideal role model for LIVED leaders of the future.

Author: Jordon Jones