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Soichiro Honda, Nelson Mandela and Warren Buffett
It is not everybody who can be a leader. This is a statement that can
be affirmed after extensive research that identifies various world known
leaders and managers of the most profitable business enterprises in the
world. This research paper seeks to elaborate on the various aspects
that constitute a leader and that are essential to any person aspiring
to be a leader. In an effort to exploit this topic, this research paper
takes case of three renowned world leaders or and managers. It is vital
to point out that the top best business managers and executives are said
to have the best leadership skills (De 55). For the purpose of this
research paper, the world known leaders Nelson Mandela, Warren Buffet
and Soichiro Honda will be compared and contrasted. This will bring into
light the various traits that made these leaders extremely successful
and respected across the world. A mention of any of the above names
anywhere in the world creates the sense of a leader. These are leaders
who are envied and admired by many people across the world for their
leadership skills. They are leaders that many people would wish to
emulate. They have been described by other world leaders as some of the
greatest leaders of the century. All the extremely successful people in
the world are largely known to be persistent in their journey to
success.
Whereas it is a fact that there is no perfect way to lead, it is
paramount to note that leadership constitutes a number of essential
traits. The above mentioned leaders possess either some or all the
traits that are discussed below. It is also vital to point out that
leaders are effective depending on the nature and the environment that
they operate from. The people being lead also determine the form of
leadership an effective leader adopts. It is essential for every leader
or aspiring leader to be humble and have integrity. The role of a leader
is mainly to guide others towards a certain goal of vision. It is vital
to point out that a leader must therefore be humble in the way he
directs his subordinates. One of the world leaders who have been
described as humble is Warren Buffet (Fox 44). Warren was quoted saying
that he does not deserve all the success that he has. This is a trait of
a leader, which is extremely essential. It means that humble leaders
attribute their success to their subordinates. This is essential in
raising employees’ motivation and morale towards their jobs. Nelson
Mandela, one of the world’s greatest leaders portrayed high levels of
humility and integrity. Despite him being jailed for 27 years, Mandela
was ready to forfeit presidency after one term, for the sake of unity
and reconciliation in South Africa.
Communication has been described as one of the key aspects necessary
for a good leader. It is vital for a leader to communicate the
organization’s vision and mission to the subordinates. This is
essential in ensuring that the all employees under the guidance of the
leader are aware of the goals of the organization they work for (Fox
81). In addition, great leaders are argued to be good listeners who talk
less. This is critical for every leader since it enables them to listen
to every person and take time to weigh options and come up with the best
decisions. Some of the best leaders in the world are known to have been
great speech givers. For instance, Nelson Mandela once gave a four hour
speech. Leaders influence the people they lead through communication.
There is no great leader who can stand without resilience. It is a fact
that leadership is faced by a myriad of challenges. A perfect leader
needs to listen to others, but stand firm with the decisions he makes.
It is evident that there will always be people undermining and ignoring
some of the decisions a leader makes. It is therefore, the
responsibility of the leader to balance between sympathy and being
insensitive to other people’s opinions. Resilience is critical for a
leader if his or her leadership has to be successful (De 32). Whereas it
is vital to be resilient, leaders should also learn that stubbornness
and rigidity are indications of a crumbling leader. It is paramount to
listen to other voices as a leader and bend when necessary. A perfect
leader should be ready to change if the change being proposed is for a
good course. It is vital for any leader to understand that if rigidity
causes resentment and animosity amongst the people being lead. A leader
should not be afraid to try new ideas if the current ones he or she is
operating under are not working.
It would be worthless to discuss essential elements of a leader without
mentioning the ability of a leader to learn from past mistakes. In other
words, an effective leader should be ready to learn from failure. It is
evident that failure is common in everyday life and the best approach to
failure is to take it as a learning opportunity (Fox 71). Some of the
greatest leaders such as Soichiro Honda failed several times before
finding their breakthrough. A good leader should not fear to fail since
it is only through failure that new strategies can be tried and change
can be realized. The duty of a leader is to inspire other people looking
up to him and through admitting that he has failed is by itself an
inspiration to numerous people.
The best known leaders have always been effective role models to the
people they lead. Effective leaders model what they expect their
employees or subordinates to do. A leader needs not only to talk the
talk, but also to walk the talk (De 27). Leaders should lead by example.
For instance, when Nelson Mandela decided to only run for one term, it
was a message he was sending to South Africans that true leadership is
about giving other people a chance. This taught his followers that they
should emulate him and not hold onto to power. This is a clear
indication that a true leader leads from the front. A quality leader
does not tell or force his or her employees to do what he cannot do
himself.
Lastly, an essential element of any successful leader is the
understanding that success is a journey and not a one-time destination
(Fox 105). This understanding has helped many successful leaders to
achieve their dreams. For instance, the founder of Honda cars and
motorcycles took a journey with numerous failures in order to achieve
his dream of making the most economical cars. Success for any leader is
a process. It takes a lot of time perfect leadership and to achieve any
reputable success. Nelson Mandela had to be jailed for 27 years in order
to earn his fame as a great leader who sacrificed his own time and
family to serve the people (Battersby 598). This was a long process and
not a one-time action. Therefore, a true leader must practice utmost
patience and resilience in order to achieve his dreams.
The following leaders will shed more light on the essential elements of
a good leader. Discussed below the similarities and differences between
the three world leaders Nelson Mandela, Soichiro Honda and Warren
Buffet. These leaders achieved tremendous success in their different
fields. Soichiro founded Honda, which a world known cars and motorcycle
company. Nelson Mandela led South Africa out of apartheid, while Warren
Buffet has been described as the most successful businessman in the
world. He is the CEO and the biggest shareholder of the Berkshire
Hathaway Company. All these leaders have achieved immeasurable success
in their different fields. This success has been attributed to their
leadership styles and the leadership traits and techniques they adopted
to achieve their goals.
Soichiro Honda
Soichiro Honda is the brain behind the famous Honda motorbikes and
cars. His success can only be described in few words as an unachievable
dream he had some years back. However, one trait that Soichiro had was
impeccable patience to achieve his dream (Alexander 113). In other
words, it can be argued that this successful businessman had a dream. It
is a trait that ensured that he achieved the current success he has.
This was coupled with the patience and persistence he portrayed. His
dream was to make unique piston rings. When Soichiro made his first
piston ring and proposed to sell it to Toyota, it was rejected
(Alexander 112). Instead of giving up, Soichiro braced himself up and
decided to design a better piston ring, which was eventually accepted by
Toyota. When Soichiro decided to start a Honda firm, there is immense
opposition from the Japanese government. This did not push him down, but
he viewed his challenges as just hurdles to propel him to his dream
(Alexander 116). From the time that Soichiro was a young person, he
demonstrated some leadership traits and personalities.
When he was designing the piston ring, it was evident that he was
confident with himself and he extremely trusted his own abilities and
skills (Clark and Takahiro 142). This was demonstrated when he was
downplayed by his classmates and the teachers after his piston ring was
rejected by Toyota. He did not give up his dream, but he embarked on
improving the design of his piston ring. As an employee at Art Shokai,
Soichiro demonstrated the skill of hard work and commitment to his job
(Allen 65). This saw him being promoted to managerial position in the
company. It can be pointed out from this event that as a leader,
Soichiro knew the fruits of hard work. As a leader, it is paramount to
lead from the front and Soichiro did exactly that (Allen 66). He
portrayed hard work, which other employees emulated. It is critical to
point out that in his own words, Soichiro downplayed the relevance of
education by asserting that any diploma from a school from similar to a
movie ticket. He believed in hard work, self-confidence, ethics and
dedication in his work.
Nelson Mandela
He is regarded as one of the most influential leaders across the world
in recent times. His resilience and fight against apartheid in South
Africa brought him to the world platform. Nelson sacrificed his own
beliefs in order to achieve his dream of an apartheid free South Africa.
His leadership style comprised of self-sacrifice and dedication. Mandela
wanted everybody to be equal, and after 27 years in jail, he managed to
unite South Africans (Mafela 61). He can therefore, be regarded as a
patient and committed leader. In addition, Mandela emphasized on the
need for education for everybody. He believed that education was the key
to alleviating poverty in the world. Another vital character that
Mandela possessed was the ability to accommodate his competitors (Mafela
66). After his imprisonment, Mandela did not push for the repatriation
of his opponents, but chose to work with them.
Mandela was a leader who was always thirsty for knowledge. He attended
various universities across the world such as University of
Witwatersrand and University of London (Battersby 592). When Mandela
clinched presidency, he had the opportunity to revenge against his
jailors. However, Mandela rejected grudges and instead of revenging
against his jailors, he forgave them publicly and chose to work with
them (Mafela 65).
Warren Buffet
As one of the greatest businessmen and richest person in the world,
Warren Buffet could be expected to be proud of his achievements.
However, as a leader, Warren has learned the art of humility. As the
highest shareholder and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Company, Warren has
been described as a humble leader, who attributes his success to his
subordinates (Lowe 46). His leadership and management style of being
simple, plain and economical has ensured that he has made great success
in the business world. He is an accommodative leader who appreciates the
success of his competitors (Lowe 49). Warren has also been described as
being a kind leader who has donated the highest amount of money to
charity in the history of America.
Warren is a leader who embraces change and learns from his mistakes.
Warren is an organized and a businessman who is also a budgeter. Warren
has adopted three aspects of leadership that has enabled him succeed. He
is a humble businessman who believes in hard work to gain success (Lowe
47). He argues that he does not deserve all the success he has achieved.
Warren is a great communicator who understands his audience.
Similarities between Soichiro Honda and Nelson Mandela
Both Nelson and Soichiro were dreamers. Soichiro dreamt of making the
most economical car for the people, while Nelson dreamt of a free South
Africa without apartheid. Both leaders practiced resilience and
patience. Nelson Mandela was jailed for 27 years while seeking freedom
for the people of South Africa (Mafela 58). On the other hand, Soichiro
had to withstand various failures in order to achieve his dream. When
his business was demolished by American army during the war, he did not
give up (Alexander 115). Another similarity between these two great
leaders is their ability to take risks without the fear of failure.
Soichiro took the risk of designing a new piston ring while Mandela
sacrificed his beliefs and went to jail for the sake of the greater good
(Battersby 589). The chances for making achievements in these two
leaders’ dreams seemed impossible. In other words, the two leaders can
be said to be believers of the impossibilities.
Differences between Nelson Mandela and Soichiro Honda
While the two leaders may be similar in some aspects, they also
portrayed a few differences in their leadership traits. One main
difference in the two leaders was in the emphasis that they gave in
regard to education. While Mandela believed that education was the key
to the world’s problems, Soichiro gave little regard to education, but
rather believed in hard work and dedication to one’s job (Allen 64).
While Mandela could be viewed as accommodative of his enemies, Soichiro
is largely described as being critical of his opponents’ management
styles and competition.
Similarities between Soichiro Honda and Warren Buffet
There is no doubt that these two successful businessmen have various
traits in common that enabled them to achieve their dreams. Both leaders
have made various mistakes as they aspire to achieve their dreams. The
great thing is that they both learned from their mistakes and took their
failures as learning processes. Both leaders are great communicators.
They communicate their messages to their potential target audience
effectively. In addition, the two leaders are also great listeners. They
listen to the voice of other people and respond to their needs.
Communication is vital in the business world, and both Warren and
Soichiro understood this too well. Lastly, these two leaders are
flexible and can embrace change. Leadership is all about going with the
times and embracing any change that has positive input into the
business.
Differences between Soichiro Honda and Warren Buffet
These two leaders might be successful businessmen, but their leadership
styles may have a few differences. Warren is an extremely philanthropic
person who has given a huge chunk of his wealth to charity. It is
estimated that Warren has donate over 30 billion dollars to charity
(Forbes 7). In this research, it is difficult to find any information,
which describes any charitable works by Soichiro. Warren has also been
described as being humble and attributing his wealth to his
subordinates. This is different from Soichiro, who is viewed as being
proud of his achievements. Lastly, Warren seems to appreciate the
efforts that his competitors are making. He was quoted once saying that
if someone else did something better than he does, he would be happy for
them (Forbes 18). However, Soichiro has been described as a critic of
his competitors, who largely questions and downplays their management
styles.
Similarities between Nelson Mandela and Warren Buffet
Nelson and Warren are two great world leaders who are emulated by
numerous people around the world. Both leaders have shown a great deal
of self-sacrifice for the benefit of the people. Mandela went to prison
for 27 years for the welfare of the South African people. This relates
to Warren Buffet’s kind heart where he has donated numerous funds to
the people to improve their welfare (Noah 61). Both leaders were also
great communicators and they sought to understand their opponents or and
competitors. Additionally, the two leaders are accommodative and
appreciate their opponent’s efforts. Mandela worked with his jailors,
while Warren was quoted saying that he would be happy for his
competitors’ success.
Differences between Nelson Mandela and Warren Buffet
Although the two leaders have made tremendous success, their leadership
styles have indicated a few differences. Whilst Warren is extremely
philanthropic, research has indicated that Mandela does not seem
philanthropic especially in terms of finances.
Conclusion
It is clear that the three leaders discussed in this research paper
were exceptional leaders. It can be argued that whereas leaders are said
to be born, a leader must work towards enhancing his or her leadership
skills. One trait which comes out clearly for any exceptional leader is
that one must be a great communicator. Communication is vital for
leadership. There are numerous elements essential for a leader. However,
the elements that a particular leader adopts for his leadership position
depends on the environment.
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