Voice and Dignity……



RUDY G IULIANI HAS A S A YING: “Know what you believe.” I think he’s right, so I want to conclude this section of the book with one of my core beliefs. I mention it because it is the hinge for every principle—mission and values, candor, and differentiation.The belief is this : every person in the world wants voice and dignity, and every person deserves them.

By “voice,” I mean people want the opportunity to speak their minds and have their ideas, opinions, and feelings heard, regardless of their nationality, gender, age, or culture.

By “dignity,” I mean people inherently and instinctively want to be respected for their work and effort and individuality.If you’ve just read the above and said, “Well, obviously,” then fine. I am assuming that most people are having that response. And maybe the belief in voice and dignity doesn’t even need to be stated, it is so widely accepted and its importance is so self-evident. But I have been surprised over the past couple of years at how


often I end up coming back to this value when I talk about winning.Last year in China, a young woman in the audience stood and, literally in tears, asked how any business person in her country could practice candor and differentiation when “only the voice of the boss is allowed.”“We, the people underneath, have so many ideas. But we cannot even imagine speaking them until we are the boss,” she said. “That is fine if you are an entrepreneur and start your own company. Then you are the boss. But some of us are not able to do that. Every country I’ve visited share some of her frustration and concern on this matter.Now, when you are running a unit or a division, you rarely think that people aren’t speaking up or that they’re not respected. It feels like the people around you certainly are.

I believe Work-Out was responsible for one of the most profound changes in GE during my time there. For the vast majority of employees, the boss-knows-all culture disappeared.■A big bureaucracy like GE needed something as systematized as Work-Out to break the ice and get people to open up. But it is not the only method to make sure that your team or company is getting every voice heard. Find an approach that feels right to you.I’m not saying that everyone’s opinions should be put into practice or every single complaint needs to be satisfied. That’s what management judgment is all about. Obviously, some people have better ideas than others; some people are smarter or more experienced or more creative. But everyone should be heard and respected.They want it and you need it….THANKS


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