As I boarded a Japan Airlines international first class not long ago, a cabin attendant at the entrance to the aircraft greeted me in Japanese with, “Dr. Bleistein! We’ve been expecting you!” rather than the typical, “Welcome aboard, sir!” in English. Not only did she know my name, but also presumed correctly that I speak Japanese, when typically the presumption would be that I don’t.
Leaders cannot engage people. People must engage themselves. All a leader can do is clear the way. Despite this, I often find overreaching conclusions from employee engagement surveys about leader’s capability that ought not be drawn, and decisions based on those conclusions that ought not be made.
Engagement is either in the nature of a person or it is not. Some employees will never be engaged no matter what you say or do because the business you want is not what they want. That’s fine, but perhaps they should be in a different role or in a different company. Other employees are simply disengaged from life, not just from your business specifically. You cannot fix that.
CEOs often ask me how best to lead dramatic, strategic change knowing full well the kind of concerns, resistance, and doubt that such change can evoke in some staff. Below I list some of what advise.
Empowerment is like breathing. We all recognize its need but we’re rarely aware of it until something is wrong. Passivity in business is the most common symptom of lack of empowerment. Continue reading
If you want to improve collaboration in your business, it should not be done by encouraging harmonious interaction. Rather, you must institutionalize confrontation.
No healthy organization is ever in harmony; it is constructive disharmony that is the ideal state. Natural tension always exists between individuals and groups in any organizations, and there is no resolution of conflict without confrontation.
Most global companies outside of Japan have targets for increasing numbers of women employees, particularly in management. And even in Japan where women are often given short shrift, more global companies now have such targets as well. However, the leaders of the most successful companies I know achieve their objective by doing things right that have nothing to do with women at all, and their businesses and all staff, both men and women, are better off as a result.
If you are the leader of a business in Japan or anywhere else, whether your business is subject to diversity targets or not, below is what I advise.
If I offered you more money for results, would you change anything that you are doing now?
I have asked this very question to numerous successful CEOs, and invariably the answer is no. I suspect yours is as well.