virus

Sanguine Leadership

The COVID-19 panic that has enveloped Japan and other countries in the world is primarily driven by sensationalism in media reporting giving people around the world a skewed perception of a personal health risk, which in Japan and the U.S. alike, is in reality exceedingly remote. Yet the real health risk is largely illusory.

My wife told me of a news report of a passenger on a Tokyo commuter train who hit the emergency stop button. When railway staff came to investigate, the passenger told them there was a guy in the carriage without a surgical mask who was coughing.

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Don’t be a Japanologist

Japan-fatigue is real and can be fatal to your success and career. Don’t try to explain how Japan is different to executives in your head office. While such conversations are great for dinner parties, talks with students, and war stories with friends, unless executives in your head office are interested in Japanology as a hobby, it’s best to leave Japanology to academics. Executives will find discussions only frustrating and tedious.

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engagement survey

Engagement Survey Use and Misuse

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.

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mask

Fear Misplaced

Risk and risk perception are rarely equivalent, but if you lead an organization, yours must be one and the same.

I write this as worldwide cases of coronavirus surpass 10,000, most of which are in China, and are certain to rise. While a frightening pathogen to be sure, the fears that coronavirus has provoked in people in other countries are beyond rational, as are the changes in their behavior.

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Authority Isn’t Empowerment

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

veronica prat van thiel and steven bleistein

Conversation with Cartier Japan CEO Veronica Prat Van Thiel

On December 12th, I conducted an onstage conversation with Cartier Japan CEO Veronica Prat Van Thiel at the Roppongi Hills Club in Tokyo co-hosted by the American and French chambers of commerce in Japan. We had a full house, and lots of great questions from the audience.

This was an off-the-record event. Below are my personal takeaways.

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