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The Loudest Duck: Moving Beyond Diversity while Embracing Differences to Achieve Success at Work

ISBN: 978-0-470-56759-3
192 pages
October 2009
The Loudest Duck: Moving Beyond Diversity while Embracing Differences to Achieve Success at Work  (0470567597) cover image


Written in an accessible style, The Loudest Duck is a business fable that offers an alternate view of a multicultural workplace through the use of practical stories and cultural anecdotes. For instance, the Chinese teach their children, "The loudest duck gets shot," a viewpoint that gets carried into adulthood, while many Americans are taught, "The squeaky wheel gets the grease." As a result, you find two distinct ways of doing business, neither one being necessarily the right or better way. By understanding others' viewpoint, you can understand how better to work with them.
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Table of Contents



Chapter 1 Beware of Noah's Ark.

Objections to Diversity.

Chapter 2 The Elephant and the Mouse.

Combining Forces.

Point of View.

Chapter 3 Tell Your Grandma to Go Home.

Necessary but Not Sufficient.

Preconceived Notions Have Roots.

Chapter 4 What's Easy for You Is Hard for Me And Howe to Navigate the Differences.

Getting Noticed in Noah's Ark.

Getting Out of Your Own Comfort Zone.

Critical Feedback.

Who Apologizes and Who Interrupts.


Chapter 5 Unwritten Rules.

Subtle Inequities.

Chapter 6 We Hire for Difference, and Fire Because They Are Not the Same.

The Danger of Unconscious Thinking, Speaking and Acting.

Chapter 7 The Tools in Your Toolbox.

Think about the People on Your Team.

Learn to Recognize Other People's “Grandmas”.

Fair and Equal with Access, Knowledge and Feedback.

Be Careful with Your Words, and How You Interpret the Words of Others.

The Silent Have Something to Say.

Results Should Be the Determinant.




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Author Information

Laura Liswood is a Senior Advisor and former managing director for Global Leadership and Diversity at Goldman Sachs and is Secretary General of the Council of Women World Leaders. She has held executive positions in the banking, cable television, and airline industries, and cofounded The White House Project.
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"Laura Liswood has both great theoretical and practical understanding of diversity—why it is important in organizations and why attempts to create it often fail to deliver. The Loudest Duck is essential reading for anyone who wants to maximize the effectiveness of organizations or just wants to understand why things are the way they are."
Rt. Hon. Kim Campbell, Canada's 19th and first female Prime Minister

"Diversity is a popular buzzword, but too many organizations treat it as window dressing. Laura Liswood explains how successful leaders learn to value diversity for the advantages it brings. This book is clearly written, savvy, and wise."
Joseph S. Nye Jr., University Distinguished Service Professor at Harvard University; Author of The Powers to Lead

"The Loudest Duck is a must read for managers and leaders of multinational corporations and international organizations. It provides an insightful look and fresh approach to cultural and gender differences that must be better understood for a more effective workplace."
Ann M. Veneman, Executive Director, UNICEF

"Laura Liswood brilliantly shows us how to get to Diversity 2.0 and beyond. A workplace of people from different backgrounds can lead to tensions, but this book shows, with great insights and examples, how it can lead to real creativity instead. It’s an indispensable guide for managers and leaders—and also for anyone who wants to succeed in any aspect of life."
Walter Isaacson, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Aspen Institute

"Laura's timing is perfect and her message is spot on. Embracing diversity creates competitive advantage. Her book should be mandatory reading for everyone in business today. In the most engaging, fun, and real way, Laura gets to the heart of the opportunity—enabling Noah's diverse floating Ark to fly to the moon and beyond."
Beth Brooke, Global Vice Chair of Public Policy, Sustainability and Stakeholder Engagement, Ernst & Young

"Globalized businesses are increasingly aware that diversity belongs in the boardroom, not the public relations department, so The Loudest Duck is beautifully timed. Liswood is thoughtful and thought-provoking. Best of all, she's practical, helping ambitious employees from nondominant groups to prove their worth, and advising leaders how to transform diversity from rhetoric into an engine for innovation and growth."
Kevin Kelley, Chief Executive Officer, Heidrick & Struggles

"Iconoclastic and savvy, Laura Liswood's The Loudest Duck reminds us that not all diversities in the Ark are equal: Some in the Ark are louder and they get heard most. Combining an impressive breadth of research with colorful stories from corporate life, this book is essential reading for anyone who is serious about reaping the promise of diversity at work."
Herminia Ibarra, Professor of Organizational Behavior; The Cora Chaired Professor of Leadership and Learning Director, INSEAD Leadership Initiative

"Brilliant! Liswood offers unique insight and fresh tools for a Diversity 2.0 world. Drawing on thinkers from Thucydides to Malcolm Gladwell, and on more than three decades of executive experience, she offers leaders ideas for building a meritocracy that will ensure corporate success."
Robin Gerber, Author of Leadership the Eleanor Roosevelt Way and Barbie and Ruth

"The Loudest Duck is one of the clearest and most profoundly informative analyses of why, despite decades of effort and investment, most diversity initiatives fail to produce the promised benefits to organizations or their employees. This book goes beyond analysis and provides a new language of metaphor that captures the unexamined dynamics of dominance, unearned privilege, and unconscious bias that undermine our attempts to create truly diverse and inclusive workplaces. In her introduction Laura Liswood makes clear her goal to move us beyond Diversity 1.0. She is successful. The Loudest Duck has the potential to usher in Diversity 2.0, a new conversation and approach to changing our organizations and ourselves. It is a must reading for leaders who are serious about diversity and inclusion in their organizations."
David A. Thomas, H. Naylor Fitzhugh Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School; Author of Breaking Through: The Making of Minority Executives in Corporate America

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