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Boards fail in their duties when they allow CEOs to dominate, says Indra Nooyi

“There are many CEOs, mostly men who are Imperial, because somehow the belief is that when you become CEO, you've been anointed kind of king. That's not what people expect from the CEO. The people around them, including the board has to keep them under check. When boards allow CEOs to be Imperial, boards have failed in their duties,” said Nooyi at the NASSCOM Technology and Leadership Forum 2022.

February 18, 2022 / 07:55 PM IST
Indra Nooyi worked at PepsiCo for 24 years, 12 of them as CEO, before stepping down in 2018. (Illustration by Suneesh K)

Indra Nooyi worked at PepsiCo for 24 years, 12 of them as CEO, before stepping down in 2018. (Illustration by Suneesh K)

When companies' boards allow the CEOs to be imperial, set the agenda to dominate and manipulate them, they fail, said Indra Nooyi, former PepsiCo CEO, on February 18.

“There are many CEOs, mostly men who are imperial, because somehow the belief is that when you become CEO, you've been anointed kind of king. That's not what people expect from the CEO. The people around them, including the board has to keep them under check. When boards allow CEOs to be Imperial boards have failed in their duties,” said Nooyi at the NASSCOM Technology and Leadership Forum 2022.

She was in conversation with Wipro Executive Chairman Rishad Premji. The three-day NTLF is being held from February 16-18. She was responding to Premji's question about leadership.

According to her, the consequence of having imperial CEOs, who think of themselves as kings, is that the model starts to transmit itself down the chain. “So the next level behaves in an imperial way and the next level behaves in an arrogant way. Pretty soon, the company is just not a place where you want to come to work,” Nooyi explained.