Business Environment

What kind of leadership is needed in an Indonesian organization?【Six blind men describe the elephant.】

Things are evaluated differently depending on what you see and think.

Recently, on 9 September, the governor of Jakarta Special Provincial Government Anis announced that the transitional period of PSBB phase-out, which has been in place since June, will be cancelled and the PSBB will be re-enforced for a period of two weeks starting next Monday, 14 September, due to the concern that the ICU (intensive care unit) of the covid-19 receiving hospital in the city is about to be full due to the spread of the new corona infection.

This will make it compulsory for all companies to work from home except for those in the 11 sectors directly related to the people's lives, and will also prohibit eating in restaurants again, which will certainly reduce consumption in Jakarta and affect the production activities of the Japanese manufacturers we serve. The only good thing is that the odd-even restrictions that restrict access to the city's main roads will be lifted, making it easier to move.

(Added September 13, 2020.)
Gov. Anis, in response to an outcry from the political and business community, has given certain consideration to requiring employees to come to work at 25 percent or less if they are forced to do so.

In the case of the extension of the state of emergency declaration by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government after the Japanese government lifted the state of emergency declaration (April 8 to May 6), I had a perceptive view that it was just a stand-up act by Governor Koike in preparation for the July gubernatorial election, but every day news reports on the increase in corporate bankruptcies and unemployment due to the economic recession in Indonesia If he is prepared to do so, he must respect Governor Anis's decision.

On the other hand, Japanese people living in Jakarta come from all walks of life, including expatriates, permanent residents, and self-employed people, and they have different ideas about things depending on the type of business, size, and job title of the company they belong to, so it is only natural that they would have different opinions about the decision. Seeing the division in evaluation, I was reminded of a famous fable called "the blind reputation" which originated in India.

In an attempt to get six blind men to touch an elephant and guess what it was, of which the blind man who touched the foot said it was "like a pillar," the blind man who touched the tail said it was "like a rope," the blind man who touched the nose said it was "like a branch," the blind man who touched the ears said it was "like a fan," the blind man who touched the belly said it was "like a wall," and the blind man who touched the tusk The blind man replied, "It's like a pipe," to which the king replied, "You six are all right, all six of you are right. The reason you are eating differently is because you are touching different parts of the elephant, and the elephant has all the characteristics of an elephant," he replied.

Whether the economy or stopping the spread of infection is a priority, things are evaluated differently depending on how you think about it, but even if the number of people infected by the PSBB is reduced by reopening it in the first place, the number of people infected will increase again if it is mitigated, so I don't think there is much of an opinion in Indonesia that it is pointless to contain the virus itself.

The fact that the announcement itself seemed to have been made at such an abrupt time, some people viewed it negatively, saying that the policy was blurred, while others viewed it positively, saying that the decision to withdraw the policy was not blurred, but a wise one, because they felt it was inappropriate to do so without hesitation. It's the same thing, and if you look at things from one angle and make a judgment, you may misjudge the essence of the situation.

Can Japanese Craftsman Leadership Work in Indonesia?

Indonesia's decentralization of power through Otonomi daerah (decentralization), which was brought about by a 1999 amendment to the law, has led to the sudden and bold decisions made by the heads of local governments, but Governor Anis himself was originally a public servant at the University of Maryland in the United States. He holds a master's degree in policy studies, a doctorate in political science from Northern Illinois University, and is a highly educated man who moderated election debates and served as Minister of Education and Culture in the first Jokowi administration.

The leadership that leads members who try to see and think differently is to lead them so that, like the king of India, even if six blind people touch different parts of the body and make different assessments, they all agree that it is the correct assessment, and then they can all assess it as an elephant, in the sense that it unites the organizational group. I think the governor of Jakarta is like the president of a big company.

Many of the presidents of Japanese manufacturing companies in Indonesia that I am associated with on a daily basis have a background in manufacturing or administrative operations, and I remember that I have only met presidents with a sales background about five times before.

Most of the presidents of Japanese manufacturing companies come from the field or management department, but the sales presidents I meet occasionally tend to introduce themselves as having come from a sales background at the beginning of the meeting, and they tend to be humble enough to offer me a ride to the door even if I refuse to leave the building and tell them that it is difficult for a sales person to manage local staff who want technology.

One of the characteristics of Indonesians, for lack of a better word, is that they tend to bow down to boss lions and monkeys that have strong power (technology) like a pack of wild animals, and not only in the manufacturing industry, but also in the IT industry where I work, people who have technology are respected and people who don't have it tend to be looked at lightly.

In Japanese society, where human relationships are valued, one aspect of leadership is to lead people by sticking to one's guns, even if it means showing off one's bad looks, but Indonesians, who value written contracts, find it hard to motivate people with abstract enthusiasm alone. I can understand why you say that Indonesia will be a difficult place to work, but I believe that the Japanese headquarters' intention in placing a president with a sales background at the top of the local subsidiary is to expand the business.

Under the current law in Indonesia, which makes it an important issue to reduce the cost of expatriates to secure profits, many companies have an overall policy of reducing the number of expatriates, and in small and medium-sized companies that cannot afford to have a number of expatriates, the president of the company himself takes the lead as the sole expatriate playing manager (like a professional baseball manager and player). There are many companies that go out into the field or visit the outside world, and in that case, it doesn't matter if you are from the field or sales, the Japanese artisanal approach to leadership may be surprisingly effective in leading the organization.


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