Top 3 Takeaways from View from the C-Suite

Ask the Expert: Cara Keating

I loved my View from the C-Suite conversation with PepsiCo Foods Canada’s Cara Keating. Coming on the heels of International Women’s Day, Cara and I covered a lot of ground from curiosity as a superpower for leaders, to the importance of empathy and how critical it is to have a team that has your back. Be sure to check out the full conversation here.

Here are my personal top 3 takeaways:

1) Agility is the New Black

A few years ago, I said “vulnerability is the new black” as leaders went mainstream talking about values and authenticity. Today, it feels like agility is the superpower that leaders need to cultivate in a world of increasing unknowns. Cara shared how curiosity has always been part of her leadership DNA. Whether that was related to learning about parts of the business that were outside of her domain, or digging into her own blind spots as a leader as she built her career, curiosity is one of the key behaviours that cultivated the agility muscle needed to navigate the complexity of leadership during Covid. So, stay curious my friends. It will serve you well if you find yourself being thrown a global crisis less than a year into your tenure in the top job.

2) Be Your Own Trailblazer

As the first (but not last) female in the top job at PFC, Cara shared that her entire career had been marked by stepping into roles that had previously been assumed by men. Each time was an opportunity for her to redefine the role in her own terms vs. try to step into shoes that didn’t fit. It’s also provided a unique window to see unconscious bias in action. As more and more women move into top jobs, there are more and more opportunities for us to make the unconscious conscious and pave the way even more deeply for those who are coming up next. Cara shared her passion and commitment to continue to push this conversation forward as part of her work at PFC and it was a great reminder for me that all of us can speak up and make a difference when we see bias (conscious or unconscious) occurring. It’s not just the responsibility of people in top jobs.

3) We’re All Working on Something

One of the things I’ve always appreciated about my conversations with Cara is her candour. Often people think that, once you attain a certain level of seniority, you’ve got things all figured out. Cara and I both spoke about our experiences with burnout and the pressure that is so often self-inflicted. Taking yourself “back to basics” and making sure that you’re aware of the triggers that are signs that you’re stretching yourself too thin is actually a critical responsibility all leaders have. Putting on your own oxygen mask first is essential if you’re going to lead effectively. And, surrounding yourself with colleagues who keep you honest in this department is an important part of that journey. Cara shared how a trusted executive team has been key to guiding the organization through the dynamic pressures and opportunities of the past 12 months. Nobody does this work alone.

As always, I could list so many more takeaways. Thank you, Cara, for an outstanding conversation that elicited some fabulous questions from our audience.

Next up, on our Ask the Expert series I will be joined by the always brilliant Naomi Titleman Colla as we dive into workplace 3.0: the hybrid world of work. Is your organization chomping at the bit to get back into the office 5 days a week or continuing to struggle with what kind of plan is going to make sense? As a manager, how are you coping with this limbo that many of us continue to be in? Let’s talk strategies to move forward stronger together.

And there are 2 seats left for our Spring Roundtable for Leaders program. This session is open to leaders at the Director level. You can apply here.

Don’t forgot to grab a copy of my new book The Grassroots Leadership Revolution to get tips on managing your career and building a network of support

Happy leading!


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