January 17, 2010
Management and Leadership at Toyota Motor Corporation
Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) is one of the leading automobile manufacturers in the world. The name itself inspires trust in the brand and for many people around the world, purchasing a vehicle manufactured by Toyota is also a sound investment. In 1933 Toyoda Automatic Loom Works, Ltd established the Automobile Department. In 1935 the first A1 prototype passenger car and the G1 truck were made at Hinode Motors and in 1937 Toyota Motor Co. Ltd was launched (Company, 2011). These are the facts, but to understand the culture of Toyota, one must first have a modicum of understanding the culture in which its founder was born and in which the company itself evolved. One cannot look at Toyota from a Western point of view and understand the culture developed from an Eastern point of view. This essay is written to explain the differences in management and leadership at Toyota, to identify the roles and responsibilities of each, to evaluate the effect of globalization, and to propose approaches for organizational managers and leaders to create and maintain a healthy organizational culture. The Difference Between Management and Leadership
For a person to be an effective administrator for a business, he or she must be skilled in management and be able to accomplish organizational goals. A manager is someone who can work with people and with resources to complete business objectives A good manager must adapt to changing circumstances, is flexible in his or her approach to solutions, and applies the primary principles of management to the task at hand. These principles include the four functions of management: planning, organizing, leading, and controlling (Bateman & Snell, 2009). These four features of management are central to the operation of any business, and Toyota is no exception. In fact, the very foundation of management at Toyota is based in “Meikiki.” This means simply foresight and discernment and Toyota as well as other Japanese businesses are deeply entrenched in this philosophy. Other concepts are changing the basis of competition continually, use multiple sources of competitive advantage, organizing to achieve new levels of agility, sophisticated collaboration by working with suppliers and customers to bring the business to new heights, and become a learning company by changing practices but holding to principles (de Bono & Heller, 2008). Toyota is a people-based management system; Taiichi Ohno was the person who realized “production depended on people, not just machines” and with that concept in mind Toyota allows its workforce to stop the production line if one sees a problem. This perception is alien to American culture whether it is in manufacturing or banking because business in America is still primarily top-down. Many businesses follow Toyota’s management model (de Bono & Heller, 2006). According to the article “Blame Toyota’s Disaster on Japanese Corporate Culture (2010), Jeff Kingston believes the reason Toyota took so long to acknowledge a possible problem with the accelerator on some of its vehicles is caused by the corporate culture in place. The belief is possible design problems were not adequately disclosed to management because it is difficult in Japanese culture to tell the boss what he or she does not want to hear. However, according to Murray (2010), the sticking gas pedal was an unforeseeable issue and design issues occasionally in auto manufacturing.
These skills; however, do not make a person a leader. What does make a person a leader is the ability to inspire another person and to light the fire of imagination within him or her as the leader shares a vision for the future of an organization. A leader also treats an employee ethically, fairly, and with...