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Giving Voice to Values: How to Speak Your Mind When You Know What’s Right Hardcover – August 24, 2010

3.8 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Gentile, director of the Giving Voice to Values curriculum and senior research scholar at Babson College, offers a powerful action-oriented manifesto for living with integrity, fighting for one's convictions, and building a more ethical workplace. Arguing that if enough of us feel empowered to voice and act on our values then the business world will be transformed, she shows how to practice and perfect speaking up, thereby building skills and confidence. While Gentile's goal is unimpeachable, the vaunted outspokenness might be a harder sell to individuals in more vulnerable positions. Nevertheless, she provides sound guidance to making the workplace fairer by appealing to the sense of purpose in others, completing a self-assessment to determine risk and personal communication style, and anticipating reasons and rationalizations for questionable behaviors. For those motivated to hear her call, Gentile presents a strong--and sorely needed--case for improving corporate culture.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“Gentile presents a strong--and sorely needed--case for improving corporate culture.”—Publishers Weekly


(Publishers Weekly)

Winner of the 2011 Gold Medal for Axiom Business Book Awards in the Business Ethics category, as given by Jenkins Group & IndependentPublisher.com
(Axiom Business Book Award Jenkins Group & IndependentPublisher.com 2011-04-11)

“I can think of no better way to take ‘ethics’ out of the realm of pure philosophical discussion. Giving Voice to Values identifies what’s stopping us from acting on the values we feel strongly about. It gives us the tools, the courage and the understanding to be our better self in even the stickiest business situation.”—Ira Millstein, Senior Partner, Weil Gotshal, Manges, Senior Associate Dean for Corporate Governance and the Eugene F. Williams, Jr. Visiting Professor for Competitive Enterprise and Strategy, Yale School of Management

(Ira Millstein)

"China as a nation, Chinese corporations and individual Chinese leaders are all facing a mid-life crisis. They are soul searching to decide which way to go for the next stage. They are adults and adults learn best from their own experience and the experiences of their peers. Nobody can dictate or preach to a successful entrepreneur; their best teacher is their heart, full of wisdom from street-fight experience. All they need is to crystallize their internal values through a process of external expression. Giving Voice to Values is doing just that and that is exactly what China needs. Launching GVV in China will be a striking success and it will be critical to China’s continued success."—Dr. Morley C. Su, President of Millennium Capital Services, a leading Climate Change solutions provider in China, Ph. D in Business Ethics Education
(Dr. Morley C. Su)

"Ethical dilemmas in business often are met with silence – not because the right answers were unknown, but because the right conversation wasn’t initiated. Giving Voice to Values is a tool to give us all the push we need to stay true to our values and moral compass in the face of the day-to-day challenges of life and business."—David Langstaff, Chairman, Board of Directors, TASC, Inc.; Founder and Former CEO, Veridian Corporation

(David Langstaff)

"The unique and critically important contribution of Giving Voice to Values is that it moves us past the debate about whether we can define a common set of values, to focus instead on a shared conversation about just how to enact the values that we already know, in our deepest selves, are absolutely essential. The book is both an inspiration and a blueprint, and lays out the kind of discussion I believe is required for business education and business practice—in India and around the world."—Nandan Nilekani, Chairman, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI); former Co-Chairman and CEO and Co-Founder, Infosys; author of Imagining India

(Nandan Nilekani)

"In business and in life, we often know what is the right thing to do, but we have trouble implementing it. This book, developed in conjunction with the Aspen Institute's Business and Society Program, shows how we can all give voice to values and make the right things happen. It is a wonderful guide to help us enter an era of responsibility and of leadership based on values."—Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute

(Walter Isaacson)

“Mary Gentile’s Giving Voice to Values is a clarion call to the new generation of leaders to put their values in practice in the workplace.  Its timely and thoughtful message is precisely what the corporate world needs now.”—Bill George, Professor of Management Practice, Harvard Business School and former CEO, Medtronic

(Bill George)

"Mary Gentile documents a fascinating tool to help us to be as ethical as we strive to be. She highlights that rehearsing for ethically challenging situations may allow us to develop a response more in line with our ethical preferences than the knee jerk responses that have led so many to make the wrong choice in important situations. The ideas in the book are clever, original, thoughtful and important."—Max H. Bazerman, Straus Professor – HBS
(Max H. Bazerman)

"Giving Voice To Values heralds a revolution in ethics education. Gentile isn't interested in abstract (and often fruitless) debates about ethical principles -- rather, she wants to help you practice what to do when you know something is unethical. It's like a self-defense class for your soul."—Dan and Chip Heath, authors of Switch and Made to Stick

(Dan and Chip Heath)

"Mary Gentile has responded to the cries of business and business school critics by shifting our attention from debating right vs wrong and right vs right to acting on the questions these dilemmas raise. This is the most significant contribution to business ethics I have experienced in my professional career! It is destined to shape the behavior of future generations in ways that should make us all much prouder of business as an entity and management as a career."—Leonard A. Schlesinger , President- Babson College
(Leonard A. Schlesinger)

"Corporate tragedies are usually the result of dozens of people who sit silently on the sidelines afraid or uncertain of what to do about a transgression. Giving Voice to Values by Mary C. Gentile aims to raise corporate behavior to a dramatically higher standard by ensuring that everyone not only can tell right from wrong, but knows what to do in the face of corporate misconduct and ensures that they will give voice to their values when it matters most."—Jeffrey Hollender, author of The Responsibility Revolution and Co-Founder and Executive Chair of Seventh Generation. He is also the author of the leading blog on corporate responsibility.
(Jeffrey Hollender)

"Neither didactic nor judgmental, Giving Voice to Values is inspiring and empowering. Instead of thinking 'I wish I could,' readers will come away saying 'I know I can.'"—BizEd

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; First Edition edition edition (August 24, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300161182
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300161182
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #152,483 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
As I began to read this brilliant book, I was reminded of James O'Toole's contribution to a book he co-authored with Warren Bennis and Daniel Goleman, Transparency: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor, when O'Toole discusses "speaking to power." He briefly examines several plays (Sophocles' Antigone, John Osborne's Luther, and Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons) whose protagonist offers a reminder to leaders in our own time of the responsibility to create a transparent "culture of candor." O'Toole also examples of organizations that do -- or do not -- have such a culture, those whose leaders are - or are not -- "constantly willing to rethink their most basic assumptions through a process of constructive dissent...about such often-taboo subjects as the nature of working conditions they offer employees, the purposes of their corporation, and their responsibilities to various stakeholders." Whatever the size and nature of an organization may be, O'Toole insists, it must be one "one in which every employee is empowered to speak the truth." Trust must be the essential ingredient to its effectiveness [and is] the most elusive and fragile aspect of leadership" because it is so difficult to earn but so easy to lose and, once lost, nearly impossible to regain.

I hope Gentile will forgive me for beginning this review as I have. She and O'Toole are kindred spirits. Both stress the importance of focusing on an awareness of ethical issues and then determining with meticulous care what would be the right thing to do in a moral crisis.
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Format: Hardcover
Mary Gentile has written a very interesting and practical guide that helps people act on their convictions in a range of situations. Written mostly with business applications in mind, the suggestions offered by Gentile are equally applicable in other arenas, such as interactions among friends and family members.

Giving Voice to Values was originally developed as part of a curriculum for business schools. Its genesis came from the recent ethical crises in business, exemplified by Enron and many of the financial institutions on Wall Street. It seems that many people often fail to voice their objections to morally questionable behaviors within the workplace, even when those behaviors clearly run counter to the individual's internal moral compass.

The routine courses in ethics that are offered in most business schools have apparently failed to prepare graduates to speak and act on their values once out in the workplace. Gentile attributes this to the fact that most of those courses devote extensive time to analyzing ethical issues, rather than helping students develop the skills necessary to take action when they find themselves confronting moral dilemmas. The main point of Giving Voice to Values is to help readers develop mental scripts and implementation plans that they can use to voice their own values in a given situation, and to do so without appearing judgmental of colleagues.

The book is full of examples that will be familiar to many readers, along with various actionable ideas for addressing the values conflicts these situations create. Overall this is a very useful book that can help us all be more effective in standing up for our personal values.
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Format: Hardcover
Most people know the difference between right and wrong, but far fewer have the courage to act on their convictions when the stakes seem high, especially in the workplace. Babson College researcher Mary C. Gentile lucidly outlines and discusses the fundamentals of the "Giving Voice to Values" (GVV) curriculum she launched at the Aspen Institute in conjunction with Yale University. This ethics-based course of study is now part of more than 140 college-level business education programs worldwide. If you've ever kept silent despite your better judgment, GVV strategies can help you develop the skills and tools you need to speak up and take action. Gentile provides examples of how real people have dealt with complex values-based issues in corporate settings and offers a robust menu of self-assessment exercises to illuminate the discourse. getAbstract believes anyone in the workforce at any level will find great value in this approach to living and working in accord with your principles.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It was one of the required textbooks for my ethic class. I didn't have any expectation for this book initially. But after a few pages I started to actually enjoy this book. And I was surprised how many practical tips in the book. The author uses real story to illustrate her points and it helps a lot. I honestly can say this book change my perspective and the way I do things. If you had doubts that how much ethics class can help me speak up, try this book. It might surprise you! Knowing that I have the courage and skill to speak up is definitely one of the most valuable skills in the business world.
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I had to read this book for an MBA class, but I was pleasantly surprised by the content. The book gives an excellent framework of the barriers to speaking your mind and ways to conquer each of the barriers. Many case studies are included to illustrate the points along the way. Giving Voice to Values is written based on the concept that you want to do the right thing during an values conflict, but may be unsure of how to do so. A great read for students and business people alike.
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