URSULA BURNS, XEROX: The Art of Talking Straight


In 1990, when Ursula Burns was executive assistant to Xerox's then CEO, Paul Allaire, she sat in on a high-level meeting about changing an employee-benefits policy and after a while raised her hand. "I don't get it," she remembers saying, "but from what I could get, I don't like it." The reaction to her unsolicited feedback--the executives realized they needed to stop using corporatespeak if they wanted employees to embrace the new policy--had a profound effect on Burns, who recalls thinking, Hey, I didn't get slapped down. Speaking up has helped Burns, who grew up in the projects in New York...

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