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Why this CEO wants employees to speak up to leaders

Jane Fraser - CitibankJane Fraser - Citibank
Jane Fraser, CEO of Citigroup Latin AmericaCourtesy of Citibank

MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: What’s your biggest worry and how are you dealing with it? is written by Jane Fraser, CEO of Citigroup Latin America.

My biggest worry revolves around leading cultural and behavioral change in societies that have typically been more hierarchical in nature. In many markets, success has always been driven by presenting one’s boss with an already-solved problem and not getting much input from others.

Today we ask our people to escalate issues early — often before they even know how serious they may be — and to engage others. Engaging others helps get to the right solution with the full franchise view and leverages best practices across the institution. We also ask our people that if they see something that might be awry, to say something — and to the right leaders without hesitation — which does not always fit the legacy processes of a hierarchal organization. In some countries, this can be seen as being disloyal to one’s boss.

In this instance, I find it is critical to spend a lot of time providing the context and reason why we need the change. People need to relate to it at a personal level, so I use a lot of examples of situations I have faced — some very personal to my family and not just to my professional context — to help drive home the point and to role model what I am asking of others.