If you want to achieve dramatic change in mindset and behavior, the fastest way is through provocation. By provocation, I mean deliberately evoking a visceral emotional response in others. There is nothing wrong with provocation if you do it right. It’s just that, as a leader, you ought to be provocative, but never a provocateur—the two are not the same.
While I sometimes hear CEOs complain about their lack of authority in a matrix organization, the most successful CEOs I know never do. They have all mastered the matrix, wield tremendous authority, and influence their own and the business’s advantage despite the ambiguities inherent to a matrix organization. If you are the CEO of a Japanese operation of a global company, work within a matrix organization, and you feel your authority is stymied, think again. You just might have far more power and authority than you realize, if you know how to wield these right.
The success of any business rarely depends on any key manager or executive. It is only the mistaken belief in the indispensability of an executive that masks and suppresses the talent of others. Your leadership bench is often hiding in plain sight.
The most successful expat CEOs in Japan I know never adapt their leadership style to their company’s culture. They adapt their company’s culture to their leadership style, and there is no reason you cannot do the same in your company in Japan.
The scarcest resource in a business today is not talent, money, or technical ability, but rather independent thought and the courage to act on it.
A leader can never give anyone ownership of a business initiative or objective.
Ownership is always taken, and to take ownership requires the will to do so. A leader can no more give someone ownership than a leader can give someone will.
A company I know has a stated value of innovation that it parades out in front employees on a regular basis, but rarely, if ever, do any staff or managers innovate anything—including staff in research and development!
Years ago, I was having coffee with an entrepreneur who, at the time, was bootstrapping a software business. He had been a CIA operative during the Vietnam War, and told me about the time he had spent with a multinational special forces unit in Laos.