I find most conversations about "leadership" little more than
meaningless chit-chat. A waste of time. Talk is
cheap. Just ignore it. Action speaks clearly. With that in mind, watch
this CNN clip of Japan Airlines CEO Haruka Nishimatsu's attempt to
manage his company through tough times -- Evolving Excellence: $20 Billion Company CEO ... Takes the Bus. (Video: here, here,)
What do you think? I've watched the darn thing a dozen times. I can't
get enough. It's an inspiration. Yet, it's so stupidly simple. And it
speaks quite clearly about this guy's priorities and those of his
company. Can you imagine in your wildest dreams business, labor, and political
leaders in modern America following this reality of
leadership? Yah, I doubt it too.
Now, some of this is cultural in that
the distribution of wealth in Japan is not nearly as insane as it is in
the United States, and the so-called "talent" market in Japan is
nothing like it is in the West as well. The Japanese think very differently
about individual talent and its value in relation to an overall
organization. It's difficult to explain, but I see it everywhere around
here. And I can see both good and bad in it as well. So, I'm not saying that the Japanese know best in all cases. They don't. Neither do we, actually, but we tend to not recognize that. But I do find it remarkable that this story in
Japan is really not a big deal at all. Should it be? Regardless of the obvious
cultural differences, the United States may be forced to make some
cultural changes like these in the near future. It will be fascinating
to see how the country deals with it. Is all that "talent" worth all that
cash? If it is, so be it. I'm all for paying for the best. But if not, can we finally recognize it,
please? Can this be any more obvious now? So far the solution is simply
to raid the pockets of us regular people to save all the experts and
billionaires with a never ending series of bailouts. How long that will
last who knows. I suspect not for very long before people get really
pissed, but what do I know. I'm nobody. I have no power. I'm not
special in that system, and don't think for a minute that that doesn't
get me very down at times. I know, I know ... Obama is going to save
us. Right. Got it.
Oh, and by the way, when I travel throughout Asia for Sun, Japan
Airlines is always an option for obvious reasons. They fly there a lot.
And I generally choose based on times and prices, etc -- just like
everyone else (well, everyone else who flies 3rd class, I mean). So, do
you think knowing that JAL's CEO is taking the freaking bus to work
hanging on to the damn strap like I do and making less money than his
pilots will affect my decision to choose an airline? You can absolutely count on it.
Never mind that the service on JAL (and most Asian airlines) is vastly
superior to every single American and European carrier in the air, I'm
talking this guy's plane because he's talking the bus. Period. And Nishimatsu didn't initiate this no-frills style of
management when the U.S. fell off the financial cliff a few months ago.
Nope. He started a couple of years ago. Anyway, I gotta calm down. Here are some
related links talking about this issue. Good stuff. All worth a read if
you are just a regular working stiff trying to figure out how to retire
and put your kid through college.
Ah, one more thing before I forget. And this is a big deal. If you want
to build community in this new era -- one where the people have more of a voice than ever before -- do what
Nishimatsu-san does. It's required. How else would you have any