How Being Direct Delivers the Best Results

What Deloitte Board Chair Janet Foutty has learned about team-building and leadership

January 28, 2020
Entrepreneurship, Leadership


Before Janet Foutty was appointed board chair for top professional services firm Deloitte, she worked in several areas of the company, including leading client programs for industries as diverse as retail, energy and financial services.

She has worked with government agencies to improve their efficiency and effectiveness and helped Deloitte grow its technology consulting practice and launch new businesses, including Deloitte Digital -- all before becoming CEO of Deloitte Consulting LLP, a $10 billion business with 50,000 consultants.

Foutty visited Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business to share lessons from her extensive leadership experience, including how to build great teams and how to be direct with colleagues in what she calls 'courageous conversations.'

"Courageous conversations is, at its simplest, being fearless about having really direct conversations, but in a gracious and thoughtful manner," Foutty told Dean Bill Boulding as part of the school’s Distinguished Speakers Series. "I most fundamentally believe that being straightforward with people in a well-informed manner around the things that you think are important that they know, is actually the kindest, gentlest, most humane thing to do.”

The full video of Foutty's talk is above. Short video clips below are highlights from the full discussion, including Foutty's insights on the challenges companies face implementing new technology, whether they’re small firms or a household names such as Amazon or Google.

"The change management in their large, complex, sophisticated organizations is no less hard than it is in our organization -- in any organization," she said. "Change is hard, the human nature dimension of change is hard, even in the most sophisticated, leading-edge organizations in the market today.”

This story may not be republished without permission from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business. Please contact for additional information.

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