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In May, 1981, seven of us crowded into the tiny bedroom of my rented apartment in Mumbai.  I had decided to quit my job to create a professionally managed software company and had invited six colleagues to join me.

The meeting was to develop our vision for the new company.  One of us suggested that we should try to become India’s largest software company.  Someone else said that our goal should be to become the country’s biggest job creator.  A third opinion was that we should strive to be the software firm with the highest market capitalization. 

When my turn came, I pushed back on those ideas, saying, “Why don’t we aim to be India’s most respected company?”

– N.R. Narayana Murthy, founder of Infosys, as cited in Harvard Business Review, November 2011.

Seeking respect.

As an aspiration, an ambition.

As a vision.

As a corporate vision.

I find this fascinating.

What would it mean for your company’s policies and practices if it publicly professed to wanting to be respected by customers?

What would it mean if your company genuinely desired to be respected by its employees?

What would it mean if your company wanted to earn the respect of society?

It would mean your company would have to show respect — for its customers; for its employees; for society …

Mr. Murthy says —

If you seek respect from customers, that means you must deliver what you promise.  If you seek respect from employees, you must treat them fairly and with dignity.  If you seek respect from investors, you must operate with transparency and accountability.  If you seek respect from vendors-partners, you must deal with them on merit.  If you seek respect from governments, you must never violate any laws.  If you seek respect from society, you must live in harmony with it and create goodwill. 

To get respect, we need to earn it.

We need to give it.

Just a little bit; just a little bit.

One last word from Mr. Murthy —

If we could do that, I argued, we would attract customers, employees, vendors, and investors; revenues, profits, and market capitalization would follow.

Aretha knows what she’s singing about; a little bit of respect can go a long way, apparently…

Infosys today has annual revenues of over $7 billion.