Ethical Compass

Indra Nooyi, Former Chairman & CEO, PepsiCo, Inc.:  “You have got to have a compass. Your ethics are so important … You can be courageous; communicate beautifully; have competence, but if you’re downright unethical, no one will follow you.”

Indra Nooyi, Former Chairman & CEO, PepsiCo, Inc.:  “You have got to have a compass. Your ethics are so important … You can be courageous; communicate beautifully; have competence, but if you’re downright unethical, no one will follow you.”

In this video, Indra Nooyi, the former Chairman, and CEO of PepsiCo, Inc., offers career advice. She urges employees to communicate well, and develop expertise and competence. Above all, Nooyi says, aspiring leaders should have an ethical compass. 

Sometimes, in a rush to get to the top, or succeed within an organization, ethics are an afterthought. Increasing an audience, ratings, or market share becomes the driving goal, inspiring employees to press ahead in pursuit of those targets. But in that pursuit, cornerstone values of truth, accountability, decency, and kindness can be lost. 

Every employee is a human being, and to maximize their potential and contributions to an organization, management should treat them as such. This means insisting on truth and accountability from every member of an organization, and also listening to employees when they tell the truth, even if that is a truth management may not want to hear. 

These values mean organizations should hold each person accountable for expressing their strengths and producing great work, but also for their weaknesses. If there is an ethical or moral lapse among staff, that shouldn’t be overlooked by the company in their rush to success. To do so corrodes company culture, and increases the risk of future litigation for the organization. 

Leaders set the tone and company culture for the entire organization. If a CEO sets strong ethical standards for a company, those filter down to the staff, and establishes a guideline for what is and isn’t acceptable in the office. 

Leading people so they are inspired and empowered to operate at their optimum best means being a leader in values and ethics. It means creating a workplace where doing the right thing – not just what is expedient – is an essential stepping stone to success for the entire company. Leaders with an ethical compass, who also produce the audience, ratings or market share which a company seeks, have the potential to be the most inspiring of all.

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