“Respect Every Individual” – The Obligation to Act

The beating heart of Value Capture — our philosophy, our approach, our team — is respect. 

Not just respect in a kind of general, we-should-respect-each-other way, but as an active, ongoing way of working and living. 

For example, we often refer to the three questions that Paul O’Neill, Sr. posed when talking about habitual excellence, which included, “Am I treated with respect by everyone I encounter, every day,” without regard to gender, rank, education or any other distinguishing characteristic. To answer “yes” to such a question every day means that the others you encounter respect you and treat you accordingly.

We also often refer to the Shingo Guiding Principle that says: 

Respect Every Individual

Notice the wording of this principle. It’s not “respect for every person” or “respect for all.” It’s three simple words, each of which carries a specific meaning, and together confer a responsibility to think and act continually in a defined way.

As used in the Shingo Principle, “respect” is a verb, an action word. To live and work according to this principle, we must actively and purposefully respect others. 

In the other phrases above and any similar phrase, “respect” is a noun, essentially, a thing. It’s an important thing, no doubt, but the structure of the principle calls on us to be purposeful in our interactions with others. 

If, however, we rely on one of the other phrasings or insert “for” into the Shingo principle, we water down the meaning and we imply a passivity and perhaps even one-timeness to the word “respect.”

Think of it this way:  it’s relatively easy to say, “I have respect for every individual.” There’s nothing inherently untrue or wrong in that sentence, but it's almost inactive in its tone.

Now say, “I respect every individual.” 

There is a commitment to act and to continue acting in order to keep the promise of “I respect.” Like all other affirmative promises, we must act on the promise in order to fulfill it.


To learn more about the Shingo Model and Guiding Principles, please check our Shingo Overview page.


To learn more about Paul O’Neill’s three questions and leading for habitual excellence, download the free eBooks:

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For a related post on respect, see Treating EVERYBODY with Dignity and Respect , During Pride Month and Beyond.


To learn more about Value Capture and our principles-based approach to helping leaders and their organizations become habitually excellent, please contact Helen Zak at hzak@valuecapturellc.com or 617-935-1636, or complete our Contact Form.

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