From Value Grabbing to Value Creating: Lesson for Leaders


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A Diwali Special and Happy Diwali

Delivering Happiness, Giftivism and Conscious Capitalism all have common messages, one of which is ‘Give Forward’.

That is you create Value for someone, often without thinking of a reward. When companies start to understand that they have a greater purpose than just to make profits, they move from being Value grabbers to becoming Value Creator. They realize the company’s purpose is to give to society and the world

I remember when I came back to India after living in the US for around 20 years, I was deeply capitalistic. A good friend, an industrialist asked me for some ongoing help, and I suggested we first negotiate what I would get paid. Everything was measured in dollars and cents.

A few weeks later, I went to meet a famous lawyer about helping me with a case. He said he would. I asked him what his fees would be. He got angry.

He said I know your family, and your grandfather and that he attended my wedding and I cannot take money from you.

I walked out quite dazed, and chastened.

I appreciated there was something called Lihaz (respect and consideration for others, having a concern, and being considerate) in the Indian world.

The lawyer had given without any expectation from me. He got in me an admirer and a well-wisher in return.

And I learnt also to give forward, without expecting something in return. And it is a satisfying experience.

This lesson is easier for individuals to accept. But when you make a corporate inanimate it can only think in dollars and cents. But corporates are humans hiding behind the anonymity of the company, humans trying to be tough and only concerned about profits.
Harvard Business School’s Professor, Brian J. Hall calls this Paying Forward.

Pavi Mehta in Giftivism echoes the same and gives wonderful examples of giving without expecting returns or anything in return (see ). Brian Hall calls this Value Creating Behavior and he goes on to say this is a requisite for successful leadership. Winning leaders have a Value Creation mindset where they do good turns on behalf of the organization without expecting any returns.

Value Creation by definition increases Value and there is more to go around and share. The pie gets smaller or is shared by fewer when leaders are Value grabbers, who are trying to maintain their place in the organization by any means.

Value Creators also create happiness, and they share credit and profits. They tend to be team players and work for the team

Value grabbers tend to be Value destroyers in the long run. I remember when I worked with the University of Wisconsin to set up a campus in India, most Indian Professors at Wisconsin were motivated by what they could get out of a campus in India, rather than the fact that an India Campus would create Value all around, for the State of Wisconsin, for the university and its stakeholders, and for India and Indian youth. By being Value seekers they played a negative role.

Such people tend to be secretive, they get a sense of security by keeping their knowledge to themselves and not sharing it, because they fear they will lose out or others will become smarter than them. They destroy Value. And those who share knowledge encourage people to grow, and act as catalysts; those who teach people how to apply knowledge and create Value are winners.

And this is true in negotiations. The ‘I must win at any cost’ thinking, the thought of having it all and not leaving anything on the table are Value grabbing syndromes.

Conscious Capitalism suggests companies should make the world a better place. Blatant denuding of the earth of its resources for short term gain (like the illegal mining in the State of Haryana, in India; or the cheating in getting telecom licenses in India, or in getting illegal advantage in coal mining leases; or in the mortgage crisis in the US born of greed) and is Value and resource grabbing. Large scale Value destruction occurs as a result. Conscious companies or conscious executives will not participate in Value grabbing.

Pavi Mehta tells of her family charitable Arvind Eye Foundation, and eye care hospitals, where every patient is treated equal. His ability to pay has no bearing on the treatment. Everyone pays what they want to.

Pavi talks about restaurants where this happens. Your meal is paid for and whatever you want to give for the meal is used to feed someone else.

Paul Polman of Unilever states that companies with a purpose beyond profits tend to create more shareholder wealth in the long run and have less fluctuation in share prices in the short run. Firms of Endearment, a term coined by Raj Sisodia, David Wolfe and Jagdish Sheth tend to have a purpose and practice Conscious Capitalism are shown to have 14 times greater returns than S&P companies, and 6.4 times the returns of Good to Great companies in 15 years.

Shareholder Value is a result and a measure of how leaders work, not a goal. Such Value Creating leaders create happiness, not just profits and are greatly successful.

Your comments are welcome!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Gautam Mahajan
Gautam Mahajan, President of Customer Value Foundation is the leading global leader in Customer Value Management. Mr Mahajan worked for a Fortune 50 company in the USA for 17 years and had hand-on experience in consulting, training of leaders, professionals, managers and CEOs from numerous MNCs and local conglomerates like Tata, Birla and Godrej groups. He is also the author of widely acclaimed books "Customer Value Investment: Formula for Sustained Business Success" and "Total Customer Value Management: Transforming Business Thinking." He is Founder Editor of the Journal of Creating Value ( and runs the global conference on Creating Value (


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