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Jim Bagnola about the ingredients of a successful business

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My Japanese business partner Yoshihiko Fujii-san in the Global Leadership Coaching organization and I were having dinner with, Gota Morinaga-san Chairman and CEO of one the most successful candy companies in Japan; Morinaga and Co. I ask him how old the company was and he replied 115 years old. Why have you been so successful for so long, I ask? He said, Justice; Justice for employees, justice for the customer, and justice for our partners. Using the key concept of Bushido the way of the warrior. He said that business is like waging war but with Bushido your weapons are loyalty, justice, personal honor, devotion to duty, and courage. This is part of Morinaga-san’s strategy.

All those who are leading organizations want to know the secret to longevity and success in business. What can sustain our success and competitiveness over many, many years? What can give us the edge and advantage we need?

Traditionally we would talk about marketing, sales, finance, and technology, but I want to break with tradition because most organizations aren’t failing because of these traditional foundations nor are they getting an advantage over competition by just implementing the basics well.

Future sustainability will require that “Leading becomes everyone’s business” in the organization.” It is a simple concept but is challenging to implement. If you want to be a leading organization in your arena, the majority of your people have to be leaders. How do we create an environment where employees can give us maximum creativity and energy, producing maximum results? In other words how do we create an environment where everyone has the opportunity to lead?

In the discipline of leadership there is a continuum. On the one extreme we have an Egalitarian style of leadership where the best manager/boss is a facilitator among equals. The organization tends to be flatter and communication often skips hierarchical lines. It is all right to disagree with the boss even in public. It is possible for associates to move on a project without getting the boss’s approval. It is acceptable to e-mail associates above you and below you. The order of seating in a meeting is not structured according to status or position.

On the other end of the continuum is the Hierarchical style where the manager/boss is strong and leads from the front. Status is important and the organization has many layers. Communication often follows fixed lines. Associates defer to the boss’s opinion especially in public. Approval before moving on a project is usually required. You may be seated and spoken to in order of your status and position.

Japan is on the far right of this continuum as strongly hierarchical. Not far behind Japan are Korea, India and China as strong in hierarchal leadership. The United States is to the left of center towards the Egalitarian style.

In Romania where I am a partner in the organization, Human Performance Development International, (HPDI), training and consulting firm, the leadership style is in the Center of the continuum. Why, because in 1990 they moved out of the communist era and into democracy. They adopted English as a second, third and even fourth language. They like the Dutch speak not only excellent English but many other languages as well. Many multi-nationals are located in Romania and the global business language is used to communicate to Austrians, Germans, Italians, French, American, British, Hungarian and many others. Their style of managing and leading is eclectic.

For a more thorough picture the most egalitarian countries are Denmark, The Netherlands, Sweden, Israel and Australia.

Between the extremes of Egalitarian and Hierarchical styles of leadership we have some major options including:

– Autocratic Leadership
– Bureaucratic Leadership
– Charismatic Leadership
– Democratic Leadership/Participative Leadership
– Laissez-faire Leadership
– People-oriented Leadership/Relations Oriented Leadership
– Servant Leadership
– Task-oriented Leadership
– Transactional Leadership
– Transformational Leadership
– Leading is Everybody’s Business

“Leading is Everybody’s Business,” indicates that the style that I am proposing leans towards the Egalitarian style but may include elements of several of the styles listed above. If we are to imagine that the Japanese culture would adopt this concept we would have to find a way to respect the cultural values but adjust slightly to the new world requirements. How do we create an Egalitarian leadership structure in this culture?

Our first challenge is to adopt a new understanding of leading and leadership. What is the science of leading? Remember a science has to be transferrable over multiple cultures and remain accurate across the board. In your mind answer this question, what is the one asset that a person needs to be a leader without which they cannot lead?

Answer: A follower or followers. A person attempting to lead another person or group who has no one following is not referred to as a leader. One who has the ability to gain followership is a leader. This is the first scientific premise. The most important question then is not how do I become a great leader? The most important question is how do I get others to follow me? Anyone can get followers we just need to become more skilled at doing it.

Premise number two is revealed by answering the following question; what do people actually follow the title or the person?

Answer: They follow the person. People don’t follow titles. They can respect titles but they don’t follow them. Titles do not guarantee that people will follow. Titles do not confer leadership. What creates followers? One needs to have great relationship building skills. One has to be creative enough to generate ideas that solve problems that a group is faced with. I will potentially follow a teammate that has followed me in the past when I had a good idea. Generally when the person we are considering to follow happens to be our boss we need three factors. We require that person be competent, caring and trust worthy before we follow or give them consent to lead.

Premise number three: Leadership is not just the group of executives sitting a top of an organization. When we analyze the science of it we find that leadership is a field of interaction between the leader and followers. Leadership is not the leader alone. The leader can do nothing without the followers. Another word for leadership then is partnership. Leadership is a partnership between leader and followers. Both take the responsibility to accomplish the project before them.

Adopting these three premises or laws sets the stage for the multiplication of leadership throughout the organization. You met Morinaga-san at the beginning of this article. He is a fantastic leader at the top of the organization steering the successful Candy leader of Japan.

I would like you to meet Sachiko Fukushima who is an administrative assistant with BYK Japan, Altana Instruments and Additives; She is in a position where she is leading admirably. She organized our recent training room, all of the support for the day of presentation, she was the photographer, facilitated the party after the session, and followed up by sending me the CD of the session and all photos. During the session and at the party she was attentive, gracious and extremely pleasant to work with. She led from her position in the organization. She is a fantastic Public Relations representative for the company. I am a follower. It is as important for her to lead in her projects as the CEO of her organization to lead from his.

This dual responsibility to lead from top to the so-called bottom of an organization is called the fifty/fifty rule. It is often thought that management has the bulk of the responsibility for producing the results, products, or services for the organization. This style of leadership system places equal responsibility on both management and non-management associates. Resulting in the 50/50 rule. During one of my sessions with the military a Lt. Colonel Jack O’Connell ask me if he could tell the group how he learned this rule. He was a fighter pilot in the first Iraqi war flying missions off of an aircraft carrier. I of course invited him to tell his story.

“I looked up at the clock to see it was time to brief for a flight. The briefing was over and I began to suit up. After doing my usual preflight inspection, I climbed the ladder and walked around the back of the aircraft to do a visual inspection. I then got seated and ready and reached for the canopy handle. The canopy lowered smoothly, but instead of sliding forward and sealing, it slid slightly forward and stopped. I repeated the cycle twice, with the same result. Knowing that the canopy of the F-14 has only a few cycles I stopped and made a call for assistance.

I noticed young third-class petty officer Brady, who worked for me running out to the flight line. As he ran toward my aircraft from my left, I looked around the cockpit and in my peripheral vision; an object caught my eye along the canopy rail. It was a screwdriver! As Brady neared the aircraft, I grabbed the screwdriver and waited for Brady to climb the ladder to my cockpit. As Brady’s head popped up over the canopy rail, I held the screwdriver up and asked, “Looking for this?” I immediately saw a look of angst on his face, and he started to apologize. I told Brady somewhat tersely that we would discuss it when I returned. Brady descended, secured the ladder, and I closed the canopy.

The mission was flown uneventfully. After the mission I reflected on the events and I was perturbed with Brady leaving the screwdriver on the canopy rail. Everyone in the aviation business knows the dangers of foreign object damage to an aircraft – it can cause catastrophic damage to an aircraft engine resulting in millions of dollars of damage or even worse, fatalities. Our maintenance troops are trained to maintain control over all their tools and do an accountability check before leaving an aircraft. Brady had obviously failed to execute this last safety step. But even more troubling than Brady’s misstep, was the realization that I had done a hurried preflight inspection and missed seeing the screwdriver. I sent for Brady.

I sent for Brady and he reported to my office. Brady was one of the best young troops in my division. I asked him what happened this morning and he offered no excuses and quickly admitted that he “just screwed up.” I then asked him what he thought I should do. He said that I should do whatever I thought appropriate. What I said to Brady next took him by surprise. “You made a mistake, which could have had terrible consequences,” I said, “but so did I – had I been completely focused on my preflight inspection I would have seen the screwdriver sooner than I did.” “I don’t plan on making this mistake again,” I continued, “do you?” Brady quickly and emphatically replied that he would not. I told him that as far as I was concerned, the matter was closed. “

Colonel O’Connell’s experience describes the egalitarianism that Leading is Everybody’s Business brings. The cultural shift must begin with the Managers in a culture. Managers are those who have been given authority and title by the organization and are in charge of developing their direct reports. They are the designated coaches. The manager becomes a leader only when they get the consent of the followers to be lead by them. Managing is position to position whereas leading is person to person. When employees give a Manager permission to lead the direct report becomes a follower or engaged employee. The engaged employee is far more productive than a disengaged employee or non-follower. Herein lies the secret of creating the leader/follower dynamic that we have been describing:

Productivity is based on Leadership, Leadership is based on Followership, Followership is based on Relationship, and Relationship is based on Trust.

Over 25 years of research tells us how to energize a workforce. Our course on Leading is Everybody’s Business uses our research to change cultures.

In order to make this concept work in today’s workplace new strategies are required. Here are the ones we recommend:

1-Learn to Increase Capacity: The Individual must upgrade their hardware (Brain physiology) and their software (being a continuous learner-learning faster than competition) Learn the Transcendental Meditation program to increase capacity. (Read Yoshihiko Fuji’s book on the topic)

2-Create a healthy organization: High Energy, Minimal Confusion/Maximum Clarity, 
Low turnover of valuable employees, high retention of customers, and very little politics.

3-Individual associates must make health their priority (Read Becoming a Professional Human Being by the author of this article translated in the Japanese language.)

4- Take the Course entitled “Leading is Everybody’s Business through the Global Leadership Coaching Organization: Create leaders at every level of the organization.

5-We are moving into the age of Relationship workers, side by side with Knowledge workers. Peter Drucker identified and ushered in the age of the Knowledge worker however going forward Artificial Intelligence will do much of the work we used to do as knowledge workers. AI will never will replace relationship building: Learn to build alliances and partnerships.

6-Become Global: Honor the diversity of cultures. In addition engage female creativity and intelligence and promote them to positions of responsibility.

7-Make upward feedback a regular part of the feedback/communication system; the managers receive anonymous feedback from direct reports so that they can course correct according to their needs.

8- Please learn English. It may seem that I am being biased by stating this because I speak English but I only suggest that if you want to be a global leader, the English have made the global, business language “English” through colonization. In a way, I was lucky to be colonized.