The op.ed. in this morning’s Japan Times from William Pesek of Barron’s Asia strikes me as incredibly relevant and timely.
Japan’s small business leaders just voted Toyota’s Akio Toyoda as CEO of the year. Credit to Toyoda-san, who drove Toyota to record profits in a difficult economic year. However, as Pesek points out, another CEO in Japan should be equally, if not more, fêted: Masayoshi Son of Softbank.
Here are four attributes Pesek suggests Japan should learn from Son-san. I encourage you to read the full piece for deeper analysis.
- Swing for the fences: step outside your domestic market and scour the globe for innovation and growth opportunities.
- Don’t fear the gaijin: Son-san is grooming former Google executive and Indian-born Nikesh Arora to become his successor.
- Energy is everything: particularly renewables, smart grids, battery technologies, and robotics, all areas in which Softbank invests.
- Fire your own third arrow: (in reference to the three arrows of Abenomics) in other words, build a learning organization that embraces continual, proactive reforms.
Celebrating visionary leaders like Son-san – Hiroshi Mikitani of Rakuten also comes to mind – could help Japan avoid slipping into an Italy on the Pacific.