’True Leadership’

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07th March, 2023

In his memoirs General Douglas MacArthur wrote about his first meeting with Emperor Hirohito after the end of the 2nd World War:

“Shortly after my arrival in Tokyo, I was urged by members of my staff to summon the Emperor to my headquarters as a show of power. I brushed the suggestions aside.

“To do so,” I explained, “would be to outrage the feelings of the Japanese people and make a martyr of the Emperor in their eyes”. “No, I shall wait and in time the Emperor will voluntarily come to see me. In this case, the patience of the East rather than the haste of the West will best serve our purpose.”

“The Emperor did indeed shortly requested an interview. In cutaway, striped trousers, and top hat, riding in his Daimler with the imperial grand chamberlain facing him on the jump seat, Hirohito arrived at the embassy.

I had, from the start of the occupation, directed that there should be no derogation in his treatment. Every honor due a sovereign was to be his”.

“I met him cordially, and recalled that I had at one time been received by his father at the close of the Russo-Japanese War. He was nervous and the stress of the past months showed plainly. I dismissed everyone but his own interpreter, and we sat down before an open fire at one end of the long reception hall”.

“I tried to make it as easy for him as I could, but I knew how deep and dreadful must be his agony of humiliation. I had an uneasy feeling he might plead his own cause against indictment as a war criminal.

There had been considerable outcry from some of the Allies, notably the Russians & the British, to include him in this category”.

“Realizing the tragic consequences that would follow such an unjust action, I had stoutly resisted such efforts. When Washington seemed to be veering toward the British point of view, I had advised that I would need at least one million reinforcements should such action be taken”.

“I believed that if the Emperor were indicted, and perhaps hanged, as a war criminal, military government would have to be instituted throughout all Japan, and guerrilla warfare would probably break out”. The Emperor’s name had then been stricken from the list. “But of all this he knew nothing”.

“But, my fears were groundless. What he said was this: ‘I come to you, General, to offer myself to the judgment of the powers you represent as the one to bear sole responsibility for every political & military decision made and action taken by my people in the conduct of war’.

“A tremendous impression swept me. This courageous assumption of a responsibility implicit with death, a responsibility clearly belied by facts of which I was fully aware, moved me to the very marrow of my bones”.

“He was an Emperor by inherent birth, but in that instant I knew, I faced the First Gentleman of Japan in his own right.”

A Leader must take full responsibility for their decisions whether they took that alone or consulted a thousand others to arrive at it. That is true leadership.

“If there is not the war, you don’t get the great general; if there is not a great occasion, you don’t get the great statesman.”

At some point in our life, we all come across “watershed experiences.”

It is important how we respond to the reversals.

However the ability to sustain ambition in the face of frustration and adversity is the key to reach the pinnacle of leadership.

Leadership is like moving a string.

You cannot move it by pushing from behind, what you have to do is go ahead and Pull.

The word leader comes from “Lord” which means, in old Norse, the course or path of a Ship at Sea.

The Leader was the Captain, who in Viking Days was

usually the steersman and Navigator as well.

As a Leader, Don’t expect others to listen to your advice and ignore your example.

True leadership is about being magnanimous in victory & graceful in defeat.

Taking ownership in a crisis or responsibility in case of failure and attributing positive results to the team are the hallmark of a true leader.

Be a ‘True Leader’ whatever the circumstance & stay blessed forever.