While customer service is executed at the bottom level, it is really a top down discipline. First, the leaders need to identify the direction; then relentless dedication throughout the entire company has to follow. The model would never have worked, had it been from the bottom up, simply because there is not enough influence at the grass root level to carry the whole vision through.
Carlos Ghosn, the CEO of Nissan faced a dire task of resurrecting the company’s performance, when he was hired by the company to head the Japan operation in the early 2000s. I was privileged to attend the Asia’s Top CEO award presented to Ghosn by The International Herald Tribune in 2002, where he shared the secrets of turning Nissan around.
The Japanese are renowned for preserving their own culture, which is why it takes a very special outsider to exert his or her influences,let alone lead at the top.
Understanding the Japanese’ value for commitment, Ghosn made a public announcement on the first day of his engagement that he would step down from his position one year on, if he did not achieve the objectives set out by him. The Japanese people hold high value on the virtue of commitment; this act won an early con”dence vote from his followers.
Two, Ghosn outworked the Japanese people by being the first to be in the once, and last to leave. If you understand anything about the Japanese work ethic, you would know that the Japanese people are the hardest working people on the planet! Needless to say, Carlos Ghosn won over their support by not only talking the talk.
Three, Ghosn ensured that the vision and objectives set out are so clear, simple and short that people from the janitor to the vice president are able to understand and repeat them, no matter who is being asked.
One of the most admired brands in Asia demonstrated that getting a committed team and forming a company culture is about walking the walk, not just some feel good statements posted on the wall.