December 13,2019 Facilitating Innovation

Mutual Respect

Mutual Respect


Mentioned earlier in this book is the unique organizational model that Zappos applies, holocracy. As a result of maintaining no formal positional titles, the organization runs on mutual respect. Due to applying full transparency in business reporting each employee is empowered and knowledgeable to make decisions based on their institutional knowledge. Their application of respect amongst their coworkers, they have unlocked the secret behind repeat business.

This work has touched on repeatedly about the goal of building trust. Above all, trust leads to ideas and ideas lead to innovation. Therefore, hierarchy inherently establishes caste systems. As a result, the caste system limits the perception and actuality of trust in an organization. If there is a hierarchy, people will have power over other people. This comes in the form of work assignments to the level of job security and affecting an individual’s livelihood. Hence, this level of control will not only limit mutual trust but will also limit sharing.

The key to fighting this environment is creating a culture in which respect travels up and down the organization.  Certainly, team members must know that their best interests are at heart. They must feel valued by their peers and leader. Lastly, their ideas must be heard and those ideas have to be taken seriously for respect to be present.


Mutual respect encompasses transparency and trust. Therefore, this means that the employees are all trusted to know what the current strategy is. Also, this entails the belief that their insights will have an impact on company performance. Similarly, this is respecting the people by letting them help dictate their future fate.

By applying this philosophical approach to leadership, the leader primes the team for innovation. Team trust and respect build vulnerability helping the team share ideas and feel valued. This begins the creativity flywheel and perpetuates companies into the top places to work which is synonymous with the top innovative companies.

Mutual respect represents membership in the organization and not just a box check. In many situations, this action increases engagement quicker than any other action. With engage comes extreme ownership. People not only follow through with actions that they helped create, but they do so with unceasing passion.

Practical Application

  • As a team, define what respect means. It will vary from person to person but can be combined to form a thorough definition.
  • Following, co-create team values. Not only how peers behave with other peers, but also how leaders behave with their teams.
  • Model the behavior. It is easy to experience a team exercise and return to previous toxic behaviors. Unless those toxic behaviors are corrected immediately a new culture cannot be reborn.

Warrior Monk

James Mattis came from humble beginnings. Growing up in Eastern Washington to a family that valued reading balanced with a love of outdoor adventures. Joining the Marine Corps at the end of the Vietnam Conflict, he went on to become a career officer. Eventually leading the 1st Marine Division in the invasion of Iraq and later as the U.S. Central Command. Through a progression of career successes, General Mattis was tapped to become the 26th Secretary of Defense.

General Mattis reflects on his career as a series of mistakes that he made. What he perceived to be career-threatening miscues were interpreted by the Marine Corps as learning opportunities. The payment for this knowledge was further career promotion.  The Marine Corps applies a philosophy to turn mistakes into learning opportunities which in turn teaches leaders how to deal with the unexpected.

General Mattis applied that same approach to his team placing the highest value on initiative and aggressiveness. He wanted his team to always create options and to never be the victim. More importantly, was his approach to not allow his passion for excellence destroys his compassion for his team as human beings. He stressed coaching and encouragement, never to berate, least of all in public. Lastly, the General’s overall leadership approach was to teat his team with mutual respect.


Heathfield, S. M. (2018, September 21). Find Out How Zappos Reinforces Its Company Culture. Retrieved from The Balance Careers:

Mattis, J. a. (2019). Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead. New York: Random House.

Richards, D. (2010, August 24). At Zappos, Culture Pays. Retrieved from Strategy + Business:

Watson, M. (2018). Another Common Strategies and Practices Among Facilitators of Innovative Thinking in Organizations. Ann Arbor, MI: ProQuest.

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