Earlier this year, we announced Toyota was ranked Canada’s Most Respected Auto Manufacturer over 13 national peers. This recognition was particularly important because it arrived during incredibly challenging (global pandemic) times for auto manufacturing leadership teams, their dealer networks, suppliers and customers.
“Respect is earned, not just by manufacturing strong products, but through a combination of trusted local service and support, industry leadership, corporate values and genuine community engagement,” said Jeff Munn, Executive Director, Canada’s Most Respected Award Program. “Toyota leadership, dealers and employees should be extremely proud of this national ranking – earned over time.”
Recently, we spoke with Stephen Beatty, Vice President, Corporate of Toyota Canada Inc. about aspects/elements of ‘corporate respect’:
When you reflect on this recognition, what are some of the reasons you feel Toyota earned this?
We have a culture of listening and problem-solving at Toyota (globally). This leads to a constant improvement of our processes and products – whether it is on the engineering side, the manufacturing side, or the sales/service side. We also actively empower our teams and dealers to act – and adapt as needed – in the best interest of the customer and the environment.
Together, these two factors allow Toyota to evolve– though sometimes only incrementally – in ways that are relevant and meaningful to our customers – and quietly noticed and valued.
What are the 2-3 key qualities that constitute ‘respect’ for you?
Honesty, consistency and transparency. Humility is also important. To be respected, you must come from a position of truth and proven performance over time. These qualities and behaviours must be rooted in your corporate values – not in a marketing campaign.
Where do you feel Toyota particularly exemplifies the above qualities of respect?
I believe Toyota is viewed as an honest stakeholder in the industry and as a good corporate citizen across Canada. Our decisions and actions are always made with a long-term view of what will be in best interest of the end-consumer and environment. When there has been a safety issue with one of our products (i.e. the accelerator issue we had a few years ago), we acted quickly and openly as a team. The head-office team cleared the path and empowered our local dealers and teams to act on the issue as they felt best/needed. I feel this translated into ‘respect’ in so many ways.
As a national corporate entity, we have also always provided governments and industry partners our view and insights in truthful ways, even if our views are not always the most popular.
What are some internal factors you feel contribute to your overall industry success?
We have a strong, empowered dealer network which we trust and respect. They truly listen to customer feedback and pass it on to us. We also have a decision-making process that is broad and inclusive. Though it means decisions sometimes take longer, the upside is that, once a decision is made, it’s solid and holds together which is absolutely critical for long-term success.
Is there a difference between ‘trust’ and ‘respect’ (as you noted above)?
They are two sides of the same coin, but slightly different from each other. ‘Earning trust’ is one element of ‘respect’ (of a person or organization). Being truly ‘respected’ is the combination/result of multiple behaviours, qualities and actions.
What advice would you give a young manager on ‘corporate respect’:
Don’t hide your mistakes. Talk about them openly and honestly. Learn from them. This makes you an honest person, whom others will quietly respect.