In 2019, railroad companies in the Tokyo metropolitan area implemented planned shutdowns during work hours due to landfall caused by Typhoon Hagibi. However, there were long lines of people dressed in formal wear around the stations waiting for the trains to start running.
This begs the question: Why do people go to such lengths to get to work?
Why do the Japanese have such loyalty toward their companies? And what are the reasons behind that?
One possible answer is that Japanese companies provide lifetime employment, which became common in the 1980s. Under the lifetime employment practice, companies give employees job security until retirement in exchange for “long-term contributions” and “patience and perseverance,” where employees are encouraged to do as the companies tell them.
For this reason, when a Japanese joins a company, they are expected to be loyal to the company and serve the company even at the expense of sacrificing their personal life, which seems to be very fair under this give and take relationship.
Companies, in return, acknowledge those employees who prefer long-term employment, especially those who could already reach their retirement. For this reason, employees seldom jump from one company to another because they believe that their current job would be at stake and they would not be able to find better opportunities elsewhere.
Good management and leadership skills also play a role in retaining employee loyalty. Studies conducted in 26 companies implied that they achieve higher productivity when management is more organized, such as dealing directly with employees and the absence of an adversary relationship between employees and management. Their companies, they say, have achieved a high degree of employee loyalty, a low rate of turnover and absenteeism, and a low degree of worker resistance to technological change.
Leadership also plays a crucial, if not the most fundamental, role in employee loyalty. When asked to describe the ideal leader, many highlight traits such as intelligence, toughness, determination, and vision— qualities traditionally associated with strong leadership. Skill and smarts are necessary but insufficient rates for a leader. Often left out of the list are softer, more personal qualities—but they are essential. Although analytical and technical skills are a minimum requirement for success, studies indicate that emotional intelligence may be the critical attribute distinguishing outstanding performers from mere performers.
Leaders are becoming younger, and interactions with actual human beings are becoming less and less. Today’s leaders are disconnected from their coworkers and are more in tune with their smartphones and computers. They do not show compassion and are apathetic to others’ emotional and mental well-being. With a directed guide to ensure they’re enforcing the company’s good, disconnects occur, and misunderstandings are inevitable between leaders and employees.
Studies have found that the most influential leaders are alike in one fundamental way: They all have an abundance of emotional intelligence. It’s not that IQ and technical skills are trivial because they do matter, but mainly as “doorstep capabilities”; they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions. But recent studies clearly show that emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership. Without it, a person can have the best education, an incisive, analytical mind, and an endless supply of innovative ideas, but he still won’t make a great leader. An emotionally intelligent leader would be able to empathize with their employees, therefore becoming a more relatable role model and coach for their team. Other researchers have also confirmed that emotional intelligence distinguishes outstanding leaders and can be linked to solid performance.
If you are looking for leaders, how do you identify people that are motivated by the drive to achieve rather than external rewards?
The first sign is a passion for the work itself—such people seek out creative challenges, love to learn, and take great pride in a job well done. They also display an unflagging energy to do things better. And it naturally follows that people who are compelled to do better also want a way of tracking progress—either their own, their team’s, or their company’s. Interestingly, people with high motivation continue to be optimistic even when the odds are against them. In such cases, these traits help them to rebuild themselves and their team after a setback or failure.
We understand that teams are containers of bubbling emotions. They are often resolved through reaching a consensus—which is complicated enough with two people and much more difficult as the numbers increase. A team’s leader must be aware of and understand the viewpoints of their team. Empathy is a remedy. People who have it are more aware of subtleties in body language; they can hear the message beneath the words being spoken and read between the lines. Beyond that, they have a deep understanding of both the existence and the importance of cultural and ethnic differences. Empathy enables leaders to implement beliefs and create values.
During activities, leaders need to listen, take notes, ask questions, and be present. These will help you in your journey to becoming a transformational leader. Take these steps in your leadershift journey to become a transformational leader.
- Define the kind of leader you want to be.
- Knowing clearly how that aligns with your organization’s vision and purpose.
- Foster self-awareness, reflect on your behavior and encourage others to give you feedback.
- Recognize differences that may appear between your intent and your impact.
- Self-regulating to ensure that you have coherence between your personality, your behavior, and your leadership goals.
- Choose the assumptions about yourself and others that you need to rely on for your leadership footprint to be realistic and sustainable.
At ACT Consulting International, we strive to be your best partner in culture transformation. ACT Consulting International provides you with a precise, quantifiable, and focused approach to transforming your corporate culture into a better leadership & people, business, and culture for your company with programs customized to your specific needs and requirements. We facilitate and encourage self-awareness among up-and-coming leaders, helping them to map their journey, share their knowledge and ideas, help them achieve new skills, and adopt new behaviors.
- Shimizu, C. The Corporate Culture of Japanese Loyalty: Why do Japanese have loyalty toward companies? Retrieved from https://edamamejapan.com/why-do-japanese-have-loyalty-toward-companies/
- Khan, S. & Howe, L.C. 2020. When Work Feels Like Family, Employees Keep Quiet About Wrongdoing. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2020/12/when-work-feels-like-family-employees-keep-quiet-about-wrongdoing
- Foulkes, F.K. 1981. How Top Nonunion Companies Manage Employees, Retrieved from https://hbr.org/1981/09/how-top-nonunion-companies-manage-employees
- Horn, L. 2017. Keeping Employees Loyal and Content in the 21st Century. Integrated Studies (81), 1-52. Retrieved from https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/143838409.pdf
- Z’xent Pro. 2016. Worker’s Loyalty in Japanese Company – Is It Good or Bad? Retrieved from https://business-japan.jp/2016/09/26/workers-loyalty-in-a-japanese-company-is-it-good-or-bad/
- ACT Consulting Transformational Leaders