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Soichiro Honda as an Exemplary Leader

In this article we will analyze the approach to leadership taken by Soichiro Honda. Moreover, we will examine the environment in which Honda developed his leadership skills, his strengths and weaknesses as a leader as well as the components of his leadership style.

‘Many people dream of success. To me success can only be achieved through repeated failure and introspection. In fact, success represents 1 percent of your work which results only from 99 percent that is called failure.’ (Soichiro Honda, Michigan Technological University, 1974)

Failure is vital to the success. This is proven by a great innovator of all times – Soichiro Honda. The ability to risk is the essential feature of a leader who is not afraid to look into the future and make his dreams come true. It is necessary to stress that the best way to test an idea is not to analyze it but to try it. The person who implements many ideas is likely to have many failures, but the chances to become successful are high too. By trying something new shows the courage and the will-power of a person.

Many great successes started out as failures. Even if the failure does not lead directly to a success, it can be seen as a step toward the desired aim. Honda was the innovative leader who encouraged a culture of experimentation. He always remembered the day when being a small boy he ran after the first motor car he ever saw. He was excited by it and dreamt of his own car. At that time he could not even imagine that he would become the owner of a whole corporation. From the very childhood he was taught to work hard. Since then, he never stopped on the way towards his dream. Leadership is intended to make things happen in organizations. It means that without leaders it will be difficult for an organization to achieve their goals. Bennis and Nanus (1985, p. 21) stress that ‘leading is influencing, guiding in direction, course, actionFeature Articles, opinion’. Leadership is determined as a process of influencing individual and group behavior to get some necessary results.

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