Is it possible for one to climb the ladder of success without stepping on others’ toes? Many would scoff, claiming that it must be a young, brash and idealistic individual posing such a question.

To them, all I can say is that not only is it possible, but provided you respect others on your way up, your climb to the top can also be fast-forwarded.

Hail to the almighty

While non-materialistic things such as trust drive some, it wouldn’t be a fallacy to state that many of our competitors and colleagues are in it for the money. These are the same people that will do just about anything to earn the almighty dollar. While they are instrumental in any operation, they are usually missing some of the finer virtues required to earn the more important things: respect and trust.

Respect, just a little bit

People always talk about R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Ultimately, it means various things to different people. Never measure respect in terms of how much others respect you, rather focus on how respectful you are to others. While some people may think that this is a façade, you’ll realize that once you respect others, the respect will be returned.

This is even truer in the corporate world, where your goal is to zoom past everybody and make them want you on their team. If this is so, should you not genuinely be concerned for their well-being, as opposed to your own?

Also, if the issue at hand is making it to the top, then remember that it’s easier to make it to the top when others are pushing you, as opposed to when you are stepping on them. Not only does this make you exert unnecessary energy, but it also encourages those around you to pull you back.

Room with a view please

Not everybody wants the corner office. While most people are quite content working for someone else, there will be a handful of individuals who will stop at nothing to make it to the top. You may know that you will beat them to the punch, but would you not want them to stick around when you get there? How good of a leader are you if they bail when you win?

This is why respecting others is key. Respect your peers and their hate or discontent for you will become increasingly pointless. The best high is brought on by being friendly with those who antagonize you. Showing frustration is too easy; it is tantamount to failure. Extending the olive branch is a sign that you are confident in your professional abilities, and well-mannered personality.

Praise thy neighbor

If you think you are bright and ambitious, fear not. Others see this, so there’s no need to toot your own horn. In fact, praise the living daylights out of everyone, but remember to be sincere. Everyone is talented and has at least one thing they excel at.

This Principle of Specialization was Plato’s fundamental motif in the great Republic , so if you emphasize others’ strengths and encourage them, they will look up to you and encourage you, while your competitor looks down at them.

The more important aspect of respecting and praising others is that a CEO (or coach, or any other leader) is most efficient when he empowers others to lead and do well. Jack Welch is the master when it comes to this. He empowers everyone down the ladder so that they own their business. This respect for others brews admiration for the man once referred to as Neutron Jack.

Wanna play tough guy?

Cast their votes

Your surrounding cast will then make one of the following 2 judgments:

1— If you are unlucky, they might think that you are a cocky and arrogant boy who deserves to fall flat on his face. This impression is nearly impossible to shake and you will have mountains to climb before you relax in the valley.

2— Or, they may think that ambitious people are simply driven and focused to succeed. However, no matter how driven you are, if you rub people the wrong way, they will cheer to see you trip. Show them respect — genuine and sincere respect — and they will cheer for you beyond your wildest dreams. Employees want a person that will stand up for them; if you accept this mission, then you will rub people the right way, and in turn, go places.

Good cop vs. bad cop

Respect is nice and dandy, but sometimes one needs a bad cop around to be able to execute one’s agenda without making too many enemies. In this case, you may respect your “bad cop” ally, but most in the company will not, albeit unfairly.

While respect is an objective matter anyway, the bad cop may very well rise to the top, but not without having made some enemies on the way. Incidentally, years ago, the Board at consumer goods powerhouse Procter & Gamble passed up on bad cop Durk Jager to go with everyone’s favorite, John Pepper, because they needed a softer face after the tumultuous reign of terror of the previous CEO.

Nonetheless, the Board decided to appoint bad cop Jager only a couple of years later, because the company’s employees needed some tough love. Interestingly, Jager himself only lasted a couple of years.

What does this mean? Both the good cop and bad cop made it to the top, but neither survived? How come? Read on.

It’s all about trust

You can be sweet or you can be mean, this is more of a personal matter anyway. What I have come to realize is that trust is far and away the more important factor for success (i.e. come out on top). Some quarterbacks are nice and friendly while others are mean and nasty. Yes, it is true that the coach may not respect the bad guy personally, but he will professionally , and as a result, he will hand him the ball regardless.

But the reason why the coach hands him the ball is because he trusts that the QB will deliver the goods. When all is said and done, trust is the most important issue at hand.

Right and wrong

Doing the right thing is not easy. Greed and corruption are strong psychological forces that are amplified in business. True, by doing what’s right you may pass up on some short-term gains, but ultimately, you’ll gain the trust of others and reap the long-term prize.

Ash Karbasfrooshan is also the author of Course To Success, available at