Japan: Leadership in catastrophe as opposed to catastrophic leadership!

Japan has been knocked to its knees, if not downright k.o.ed. One disaster after another. Earthquakes, tsunamis, atomic power plant explosions. And these are happening in plural.

8.9. Gulp. The power plants were designed for maximum 6.9.

On top of the huge natural catastrophe shock and loss of life, can you imagine how people are coping struggling to find water, food, not to mention lost family?

Can you put yourself in the shoes of the leaders of the nation and firms that are trying to hold things together and make good decisions when everything seems to be going wrong and perhaps getting worse before things get better? What keeps them up at night right now makes your problems as a leader and manager seem … well … petty.

This morning, I specifically was thinking about Board members and CEO, Mr. Shimizu, of the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) who made the decision yesterday to limit electricity to its 45 million customers for up to two hours a day beginning today. It doesn’t sound like too drastic a measure – all things considered – but can you honestly imagine having to make this sort of decision and the repercussions of such a decision? Clearly, they were thinking about the good of the nation and its citizens for the long-term.  Today, the Nikkei index lost over 6 percent of its value. TEPCO lost 24 percent of its value, but surely will be honored for making the right, if not tough, decision in the long-run.

Leadership in times of catastrophe put women and men to real tests of courage and at the limits of their capacity. We should applaud the leaders of Japan and its leading companies for the way they are handling this dire crisis.


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