Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda stood on stage together with the top executives of the Toyota Group of Companies and their client companies during the closing ceremony of the All-Toyota TQM Convention held in Nagoya on December 1, 2015. They talked about the important qualities of a leader in response to the question that was addressed to them beforehand.
The All-Toyota TQM Convention is an event conducted together by the Toyota Group and other client companies in making efforts to improve product quality and work efficiency, and this year is the 50th TQM convention. President Toyoda and eight other executives from different companies conducted a special symposium called “Leaders” as they concluded the event.
The symposium included answering prior questions from employees from other companies of the Toyota Group, who will become next-generation leaders someday. Then Daihatsu President Masanori Mitsui started the discussion from the question, “What are the preparations done, and perceptions of a leader?”
President Mitsui revealed, “I got the chance to meet President Toyoda about two and a half years ago, and at that time, he told me ‘The highest position in a company is the president.’ If the president will not change, and will not move forward, the company will never change and will never progress. That’s the advice he gave me.”
Moreover, he added, “I ‘strictly apply’ the words that I put importance in. I have high motivation in my own understanding, and even if a steep road remains steep, I think a leader should be strict with oneself. By looking at that form, I take importance in the growth of my subordinates. I understand those words I got from President Toyoda.”
Moving forward, Toyota Corolla Tokushima President Yoshiki Kitajima said, “In short, leadership is about having a clear keypoint. When I was young, I experienced playing rugby football, and at that time, I believed that the teams who had more practice would surely win; specifically, rugby football doesn’t have that many unexpected results. I think that it is very important for each one of us, as leaders, to have a clear keypoint in leading our group.”
Furthermore, President Toyoda mentioned, “When I became president of our company, not all things that happened were great things. In those cases, I think it is after all the role of the top official to decide and take responsibility for those things. There is limited time for making a decision, and nobody would ask about the conditions for decision making. But when it comes to my part, I would really have to decide for it. And usually by doing so, I think it is important to consider that there are people who will be saddened by that decision, and many people would also be able to grasp such information.”
Toyota Senior Managing Officer Mitsuru Kawai, Denso President Koji Arima, Toyota Industries President Akira Onishi, Toyota Tsusho President Jun Karube, and NHK Spring Company President Kazumi Tamura also joined the symposium. They answered questions like, ‘Despite the advancement of globalization, there are times when I feel that there’s a difference towards culture and sense of values. Even so, what are the important things to consider in this happening?’ and ‘What were your experiences during your younger years?’
(Translated by Claire Marie Sausora)