Life Lessons From Japanese Leadership Style

Right: Memoirs Of A Geisha - a Japanese themed novel I would recommend.
I have recently submitted a coursework on Japanese Leadership Style that I really enjoyed writing (a bit of a rarity when it comes to reports!) and its given me a few good tips that I wanted to share with you ambitious people! I am a big believer in learning from other cultures and Japanese Leadership Style can offer us countless positive messages for success. At some point in our lives most of us will be required to take the lead - from captaining a sports team, to managing a small business, or even leading the way out of a holiday disaster! So check out these Japanese tips:

1. Emphasis on Self-Realization
The Japanese value system places emphasis on an individuals spiritual journey towards 'ultimate reality'.  Spiritual or not, Japanese leaders respond to this by nurturing individuals through their specific journeys and incorporating moral aspects into the team work ethic. Although Japanese Leadership is very much 'one team, one dream' - there is also an appreciation of diverse human abilities and differing experiences of self-realization. As everyone's experiences vary, to be a successful leader you must avoid giving excessive personal advice. There is a balance to be struck between treating people equally, and attending to differences in identity/skill sets/mentalities.

2.  Saying Yes vs Saying No
The Japanese are notorious for finding smooth talking ways of saying no - particularly in business. That way it is possible to decline or disagree without the recipient even noticing! This is all to do with politeness and it is quite similar to British culture in some ways as we are also known for not saying what we think. I am by no means recommending this - in fact I suggest the opposite. Although it is good to be a 'yes' person (taking every opportunity... even if it scares you) you also need to learn when to say no so you don't get pushed around. As a leader you must speak your mind, and do so clearly and with politeness - authenticity is more valued than you would think.

3. Successful people blame no-one and trust others.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. As an English Language student I have discovered a lot about using language to both avoid blame and place blame - a useful skill! But in reality blaming others does you next to no favours. Nobody likes a someone who scapegoats. Instead people will respect you if you take responsibility for your actions - this is massively important for leading a team. As for trusting others, scholars Taka and Foglia found that it was a crucial feature of successful leadership, readily adopted in Japan. After all, as much as you may want to - you can't do everything yourself. You've got to take some risks in order to progress.. and if you trust in others it's likely to come back around.


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