Nooyi is direct, sincere and, quite often profound. I was reminded of this recently when I came across some quotes from Nooyi related to a leader’s personal growth and development.
She believes that the success of an organization is directly related to the ability of a leader, in her case, the CEO to grow at a personal level. I have certainly heard many leadership pundits talk about the importance of personal growth, but until Nooyi, nobody had directly linked it to organizational success.
It was almost as if personal growth was just that – important for the individual involved. Few voices suggested that a leader’s personal growth was tied directly to bottom-line results.
To Nooyi, these things are deeply connected. “If you want to improve the organization, you have to improve yourself and the organization gets pulled up with you. That is a big lesson. I cannot just expect the organization to improve if I don’t improve myself and lift the organization.”
Perhaps more importantly, Nooyi believes this whole idea of personal growth is something that many leaders have discarded after reaching the top office in their organization. “Just because you are CEO, don’t think you have landed. You must continually increase your learning, the way you think, and the way you approach the organization. I’ve never forgotten that.”
While this all is absolute common sense, it’s not applied consistently by leaders.
In my work as a leadership adviser, I’ve come across many who believe they are complete as leaders once they make it to the top. That they know everything they’ll need to know, and have all the skills they’ll need to succeed.
While this may be true for the very few, truly gifted CEOs, I don’t believe it’s true for the rest. The world is too complex and dynamic to assume we’ll ever know everything we need to know to succeed.
I’ve have encountered many leaders who genuinely believe in the value of development, as long as it’s directed to everyone else in the organization, and not themselves. This is a big mistake because it reveals to the people following you that there is a big difference between what you say and what you do.
If we accept that personal growth and development – whether that is through additional education, or taking on new challenges – is essential for organizational success, then we must buy into the notion leaders must lead by also growing and developing.
As a leader, you set the tone of the entire organization. If you are seen by others as someone who is interested in self-improvement, it will set the bar to higher standards for those you lead in terms of personal and collective performance. And if Nooyi is correct, your business will prosper as a result.
At the end of the day, this is a core leadership obligation. Don’t do it just because it’s a good thing to do. Do it because it will help drive your organization’s success.
Nooyi’s wisdom is an important wake up call for leaders who believe they have grown as much as they ever will. It’s such a simple idea. However, the great business leaders often find their success in the simplest of ideas.
This week’s Gut Check question: do you set the tone for personal growth and development?
About the Author
Vince Molinaro is the Global Managing Director of Strategic Solutions at Lee Hecht Harrison. He is also the author of The Leadership Contract – a New York Times and USA Today bestseller. Vince has spent more than 20 years as an adviser to boards and senior executives looking to improve leadership in their organizations.Follow on Twitter More Content by Vince Molinaro