Asian Identity | Human Resource Coounsulting Firm

Asian Leadership vol.3 Who is the “right” person?

December 19, 2016Blog

posted by Jack Nakamura

One of the most challenging jobs for a leader might be judging “who is the right person” for an organization, meaning who you should evaluate more, and who you should evaluate less, and what measurement you should apply for evaluation. If you live in a foreign country and you are managing a diverse team, this task becomes even more crucial.

There is always a debate in an organization, which is more important for the staff evaluation, performance or behavior. The challenge is that those who bring a powerful results into a company are not necessarily behaving properly, and good attitude people are not always high performers. However, if you want to attract talent of higher market value, it is also undeniable that we should strike a good balance between both of these two evaluation criteria. So, how can we judge who is truly valuable for our organization?


1) A person of philosophy

Actually, there is a rule that can be applied in all cultural zones; evaluate people on their appreciation of philosophy or humanity. In Shangshu, the ancient book of Chinese history, we can find a sentence that describes how a leader should select people; if someone has high ethical values, he or she should get a higher rank, if someone makes a remarkable achievement, he or she should receive financial incentives. This principle clearly indicates that we should promote people who have desirable attitudes, and recognize him or her as role models for the organization. People who have performed highly also need to be rewarded, but it should only be of monetary compensation. This principle became widespread in Japan by Takamori Saigo, a leader during the restoration of Imperial power in 1868. And it has been supported by many modern leaders as well.

If you take a look at Western companies, you can see similar concepts being appreciated. Jack Welch, ex-CEO of General Electrics, said; “The manager who doesn’t share the values, but delivers the numbers. This type is the toughest to part with because organizations always want to deliver and to let someone go who gets the job done is yet another unnatural act. But we have to remove these because they have the power, by themselves, to destroy the open, informal, trust-based culture we need to win today and tomorrow.”

Hence, we can refer to this notion regardless of what region you are doing business in. The measurement you use to distinguish whether someone has the right value or not, is your company’s corporate philosophy. Thus, a leader’s job is to understand the philosophy properly and always communicate it to the people.

2) A person who can manage the process

We can’t easily define which is more valuable, a person of performance or a person of process. However, when it comes to a management position in a corporation, we should prioritize a person of process. If we use a football metaphor, we shouldn’t value more highly, a player who scores over a player who is of desired play and who is likely to lead to scores.

If you get a score, of course you should get praised. However, a score itself can be gained through various reasons: competitors’ abilities or conditions, the external environment, team synergy, and even luck. So we can’t say 100% that the goal is because of someone’s ability. However, you can attribute desired play to someone’s ability. This idea is applied in our business, too.

Logically thinking, if you want to have better performance, regardless of external environment or luck, you should enhance your quality of work, because this will lead to higher probability of achieving higher results. People who aim only for results without appreciating the right processes, wouldn’t perform stably and bring high performance in the long term. The KAIZEN idea from Toyota Motors is based on this idea. Without accumulating continuous, tiny process improvements, we can’t reach great achievement.

3) A person who can change oneself

As our business environment is changing rapidly, we persistently need to update our knowledge. Thus, a necessary ability in this era is learning ability. And it is also said that if you want to learn something new, you need to “unlearn” another thing. “Unlearn” is a technical term used in education, which means to see yourself critically and discard current knowledge if necessary. “Unlearning” is necessary because true learning is not about merely adding on something but rather, making a transformational change happen inside you.

If you want to judge whether someone has a learning ability or not, you should see whether he or she is making effort to get out of his or her comfort zone. Getting out from one’s comfort zone means to put oneself under pressure, or to try something new even if one doesn’t have any experience or one doesn’t like it. This should be a level that people around you can recognize. A leader who can continuously show the importance of changing oneself, can be a good role model in a company, for bringing better change into an organization.

In today’s blog, I’ve introduced three key criteria about human evaluation, which I believe is universally accepted. I recommend you to have your own criteria for distinguishing people, since clearer principles provide more confidence, clarity and consistency in your leadership.

Reference: Right Attitudes (Jack Welch), written by Nagesh Belludi

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