The word Samurai makes us visualize a warrior of great inner discipline and exemplary courage. The life of a Samurai is based on Zen philosophy selfless and devoid of ego. In a recent leadership program a senior level participant related the characteristics of a Samurai for success in contemporary leadership. Yes it did generate plenty of interest. On returning home I managed to locate a picture of a Samurai warrior statue taken by me in Tokyo years ago.
Samurai means to serve with steadfast loyalty to the leader, of implicit trust, high morals and ultimate sacrifice. The participant then explained the significance of why Samurai warriors wore two swords – one long and one short? He explained that the purpose of each was different. The short sword was used in the tactical battle whereas the long one when dealing with grave situations having long-term strategic implications. This meant the warrior must have the ability to instantaneously assess & discern the situation to enable the use of the appropriate weapon.
This very much applies to our present day leadership which by getting bogged-down in day to day activities and lose sight of the big picture. In turbulent situations a leader must demonstrate nerves of steel and a still mind. Thus not be distracted by mind chatter.
To make this possible today’s leader will need to practice the ‘Samurai Way’ of honor, fairness and politeness. The Samurai tries never to get fascinated by his sword but believes in the larger cause. The Samurai Way to leadership is more of a lifestyle a mental game that needs years of discipline and practice. In essence great leadership is all about imbibing the ‘Spirit of a Samurai’ which can come by actually experiencing the heat of the corporate battlefield.
A Samurai quote “No matter whether a person belongs to the upper or lower ranks, if he has not put his life on the line at least once he has cause for shame” – Nabeshima Naoshige (1538-1618)
In this context two names come to my mind of our own Samurai warriors they are:
Satyendra Kumar Dubey (1973 – 27 November 2003) was a project director at the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). He was killed in Gaya, Bihar after fighting corruption in the Golden Quadrilateral highway construction project.
Shanmugam Manjunath paid the price of his honesty and integrity. As a manager of IOC he had shutdown a pump that was selling adulterated fuel. It was International Men’s Day of 2005, when Manjunath sacrificed his life for this country.
Who is your Samurai?