Respect, Support and Business Success

By | March 24, 2010

Topics covered: , | 2 comments, join the discussion!

“The glass ceiling will go away when women help other women break through that ceiling.”

Indra Nooyi
CEO, PepsiCo. Ltd

I came across the quote above recently, and it got me thinking about the factors that contribute to success – specifically the relationship between support and success. While many of us might agree with the theoretical notion that employees that are supported do better than those that don’t, how many organizations recognize and acknowledge the relationship between support and bottom line success in business? How many organizations make strategic decisions to ensure that supporting others for success becomes a cultural norm?

In my experience, not many. Ms. Nooyi’s business philosophy of creating a workplace community at PepsiCo where employees feel valued and supported to succeed is still very much the exception rather than the rule. However, if PepsiCo’s recently released results are any indication, this is an idea whose time has come.

The traditional business model flows from the foundation of competitive capitalism. It is fundamentally a win/lose model, which is focused on the individual. I am focused on my success. I use power to support my success. I do whatever it takes to get to the top, regardless of who or what I might destroy along the way. Once I am there, I use my power to make sure I stay there. More for me means less for you and vice versa. A decision to support others will be detrimental to my success.

I am not alone in concluding that this is a business model that has outlived its usefulness. We have only to look at the recent global economic meltdown to see the effects of competitive capitalism run amok. Promoting one’s own interest at the expense of others does not promote long term success. Innovative business leaders, Ms. Nooyi among them, are adopting new business models, values based models, and many are shifting from competitive capitalism to conscious capitalism.

Conscious capitalism is capitalism that recognizes the power of purpose and the principle of interdependence. It is a business model that shares the philosophy of Me to We, the movement started by Canadian Craig Kielburger – the notion that our own lives improve when we focus on improving the lives of others.

This is a fundamentally respectful business model, one that requires a shift in the way we think about and manifest power in organizations. It is about consciously using our power to support and empower others, a core principle of respectful leadership I describe in Road to Respect.

When we work together in a respectful, open and supportive environment, we can access our collective power to conquer challenges and problems, to break through the “glass ceiling” that may be holding us back. Ms. Nooyi’s respectful leadership style is intended to create a cohesive community of employees and leaders that are willing and interested in working collaboratively and supporting each other to achieve business success. If that is a goal to which your business aspires, start the shift to a respectful workplace culture where the relationship between support and success is recognized and nurtured.

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2 Responses to “Respect, Support and Business Success”

  1. Dear Erica:

    You are so right on the money! American business (and politics) has run amok because of greed and is the “me” factor.

    As the Human Resources Manager at my company, I have been training employees in Harassment in the Workplace and many years ago I told my classes that it boils down to RESPECT. And now I am seeing more of that in print from professional trainers and I am so glad to see that my thinking has been right. I’m anxious to learn more about you, your book, etc. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Erica Pinsky says:

    Thanks for your comment Debbie and pleased that the theme of the article resonated with you. It is when people come together that great things can be accomplished and it is our values, particularly ethical values like respect, integrity, trust and that are the critical foundation for creating a cohesive workplace culture where individuals are focused on building relationships and working together with support and respect. I think as women we really need to start taking about supporting each other at work if, as Ms. Nooyi says. we are going to take on the systemic challenges that are causing so many talented women to leave corporate jobs as they climb higher on the corporate ladder.