A golden paper airplane flies away and up from a unit formation of white counterparts, showing the power of meaningful leadership lessons
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Servant Leadership

There's more to leadership than driving a team to profit. In fact, there's a word for looking beyond self-interest to prioritize individual growth: servant leadership. Try this course for a quick breakdown of what that is, how it works, and how it can lead to organizational success.

Leadership with Passion through Kokorozashi

The key ingredient to success? Passion.

Finding your kokorozashi will unify your passions and skills to create positive change in society. This GLOBIS Unlimited course will help you develop the values and lifelong goals you need to become a strong, passion-driven leader.

It’s 1992, and a young Yoshito Hori has just quit his job at Sumitomo Corporation in Tokyo. An ambitious move, to be sure—Sumitomo is a huge organization that could have set him up for life. They’d even sent him to Harvard to get his MBA.

Ironically, it’s that same Harvard MBA that led Hori to quit. At Harvard, he’d learned so much: business frameworks, case studies, and leadership lessons. More importantly, he came to see the power of business and what it can achieve—not just for a young man at the start of a new career, but for the people he could employ and for society.

Leadership with Passion through Kokorozashi

The key ingredient to success? Passion.

Finding your kokorozashi will unify your passions and skills to create positive change in society. This GLOBIS Unlimited course will help you develop the values and lifelong goals you need to become a strong, passion-driven leader.

Hori is so convinced that he rents out a classroom in the Shibuya district of Tokyo and begins teaching business classes himself. He’s got barely any capital, a small team, and many personal leadership lessons yet to learn. He spends whole nights in the office to stay afloat.

Black and white image of Yoshito Hori teaching in the rented classroom where GLOBIS was born
Hori started GLOBIS in a rented classroom in Shibuya, Tokyo, in 1992. | ©GLOBIS

Fast forward thirty years, and that one-classroom venture is now GLOBIS Corporation. It’s the home of Japan’s largest business school by market share, a leading venture capital firm, and other activities aiming to transform the world through social impact.

Hori remains at the helm of GLOBIS and its 600+ employees.

How did he do it? Here are some of his top leadership lessons through the years.

1. Think the unthinkable—even if it’s uncomfortable.

Great leaders believe in possibilities, but they also consider worst case scenarios.

Let’s face it: We’re living in an age of VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity). Things go wrong day to day. No leader or leadership team can avoid that. Risk management is an important part of a business leader’s job, and it starts with considering uncomfortable scenarios so you’re ready if or when they become uncomfortable realities.

“Nurturing VUCA leadership isn’t just about growing new leaders (though that’s certainly important for sustainably strong leadership across generations),” says Hori. “It’s also about raising awareness and courage in the leaders we already have to talk about the unthinkable.”

Servant Leadership

There's more to leadership than driving a team to profit. In fact, there's a word for looking beyond self-interest to prioritize individual growth: servant leadership. Try this course for a quick breakdown of what that is, how it works, and how it can lead to organizational success.

2. It’s never too late to invest in yourself.

We like to believe that good leaders forge their own path—and to some extent that’s true. But don’t make the mistake of thinking you can do it all alone with only your inherent traits to guide you.

Or that it’s ever too late.

There are many men and women, from Sheryl Sandberg to Steve Jobs, whom we can learn leadership lessons from. But Hori cites Julius Caesar as one figure who took charge of his destiny by embracing education and leveraging connections. And he did that relatively late in his life.

“Most of the things Julius Caesar is known for today—invading Gaul and Britain, taking control of the republic, etc.—happened after [Caesar] was appointed consul in his early forties,” says Hori. “That means it was only in the last third of his life that his investments in his education and his network really paid off.”

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3. Create an environment of open communication.

Strong leaders who have the respect of their teams know all too well that communication skills are a coveted asset.

Trying to wrestle people into the mold of your vision or drive them mindlessly toward profits for the bottom line will (very quickly) create a toxic work environment. To motivate team members, your company culture must embrace open communication.

“As far as I’m concerned,” says Hori, “the most important function of a leader should be to create an environment where everyone does their job with enthusiasm. Ordering people around and dishing out penalties and rewards has never inspired anybody . . . An environment where secrets are 100% safe makes people far more comfortable about sharing their anxieties and problems.”

Yoshito Hori with a room full of people come to hear him speak about leadership lessons from GLOBIS
Hori (bottom center) at a GLOBIS University event. | ©GLOBIS

4. Take responsibility to motivate yourself.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to transform the business landscape’s “new normal.” As the workforce becomes more distributed, many organizations are looking at what needs to be created, what needs to be innovated, and what needs to be cut altogether for smoother operations.

A leader who can determine these things is a leader whose organization will survive and meet long term goals thanks to an environment of self-motivation.

“A leader should throw out anything or anyone that depresses natural motivation,” says Hori. That includes “silly bureaucratic procedures, nasty coworkers, second-rate bosses, whatever.”

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5. Be bold.

Leaders have a responsibility to lead well during working hours, but they also need to set an example for self-care. Work-life balance in a leader demonstrates how work ethic doesn’t have to come at the cost of family time.

In his three rules to live by, Hori emphasizes the importance of living boldly.

“A rich life should not follow a linear continuum,” he says. “Don’t be afraid to make abrupt, even complete changes of direction from time to time. Get out of your comfort zone. Take big risks. Have an open mind, and you’ll find it leads you to a happier life.”

30 Years of Leadership Lessons—and Beyond

Every great leader learns and grows. In thirty years, Hori and GLOBIS have grown dramatically, learned from failure, and continued to set moonshot goals for global momentum.

As we move ahead in a VUCA world of untold innovations, ask yourself this: What leadership skills do you need to grow for the future of work?

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