Unlocking Success in Japan’s High-Pressure Market: The Power of Executive Coaching for Multinational Subsidiary Leaders

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    (*The client names in this article have been changed to protect their privacy) 

    As executive coaches working with local subsidiaries of multinationals in Japan, we have seen first-hand the unique challenges that leaders face in this market. The pandemic has added another layer of complexity, with supply chain disruptions and increased demand for certain products.

    In such a high-pressure environment, it’s easy for leaders to become consumed by the challenge of managing the unmanageable. Burnout and low team morale have become serious concerns for many organizations. But there is hope. 

    Karl*, a subsidiary leader for a medical device company in Japan, was faced with an unprecedented challenge when the pandemic hit. The sudden surge in product demand meant that his team had to work tirelessly to unclog their supply chain and meet the needs of customers, employees, suppliers, and HQs.

    Karl’s relentless ambition to deliver consumed him, and he saw the business uncertainty and the unpreparedness of his team as a personal challenge. However, as the pressure mounted, he began to show signs of burnout, and it became clear that his impatience and micro-management style were taking a toll on the team’s morale. 

    To address these issues, Karl’s organization brought in an executive coach from Kay Group. With the benefit of Hogan assessments and coaching sessions, Karl was able to explore his motivations and ambitions, as well as the impact of his leadership style on his health, family, and team.

    The coach provided a space for Karl to pause, breathe, and recharge, allowing him to upgrade his vehicle and change the tires while running full speed. The assessment and coaching helped Karl to manage his strengths, such as his focus on critical business tasks and his ability to toggle between strategic and tactical aspects of the business. He learned to communicate more effectively with his team and delegate tasks more efficiently, improving the team’s morale and reducing the risk of burnout. 

    Similarly, Jan* was faced with a challenging leadership assignment in Japan. His team was demoralized, sales were sluggish, and cross-functional infighting was rampant. However, Jan’s tremendous emotional self-control and adaptability allowed him to connect with his team and inspire them to follow his lead.

    He was perceived as objective and rational, even in heated situations, which helped him to build trust and credibility with his Japanese colleagues. Jan’s ability to think through options quickly and make decisive decisions also made him a respected leader who was perceived as being in charge and willing to lead.  

    Through Hogan assessments and coaching sessions, Jan was able to hone his stakeholder management skills and actively shape his leadership brand and perception among stakeholders. This helped him to build goodwill with his regional and global stakeholders, reducing the demands and pressures on him and allowing him to focus on his local team.

    The Kay Group coach worked with Jan to prepare for his assignment in Japan and facilitate his onboarding, helping him to hit the ground running and set a positive tone for the organization. 

    Overall, these two case studies illustrate the importance of leadership development and coaching for leaders in Japan. The challenges of leading a subsidiary in Japan require a unique set of skills, including emotional self-control, adaptability, and stakeholder management.

    By using assessments and coaching to identify and manage strengths and weaknesses, leaders can build more effective teams, reduce the risk of burnout, and achieve their business objectives.

    Kay Group offers customized coaching solutions for leaders in Japan, including pre-assignment coaching, onboarding support, and ongoing development and assessment. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your organization succeed in Japan. 


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