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Leading Teams Through Change

As General Manager for Kidney Care in Japan, Yukinari Kono has focused much of his efforts ensuring that the soon-to-be standalone company is set up for success. His experience in sales, marketing, finance, and commercial excellence provides him with a wealth of knowledge to share, enabling him to do what he feels is the most crucial aspect of transformation: instill confidence and optimism in his teams.

As a leader, how do you stay motivated during times of change?

Stress is a gift because it means you care. What you care about could be your team, your career, or the outcome of your work. Regardless, it means you care about the results and the people involved. However, as a leader, I am always optimistic and make sure that my body language, word choice, and demeanor say the same.

What advice do you have for those navigating change?

If your boss asks you to do something, it’s a sign that they rely on you, especially if it’s something beyond what you would normally do. The more things you’re involved with, the more opportunities you have to influence outcomes. Remember: key performers are remembered. Some people may grumble and ask, "Why did they ask me to do this?" Exceed expectations. Be the one who is relied may pay off later.

Lastly, always ask for feedback. And then thank them for it. It shows a willingness to change and grow.

What guidance would you provide for fellow leaders?

As the boss, you must have unified decision-making. Decisions are always calculated risks and they must be communicated with honesty and sensitivity. It’s important to communicate early and often otherwise the gap will be filled by the unhappy minority or the gossipmongers. This will just lead to a deflated team. You must get out ahead of it. Where possible, let people have a chance to participate in decisions. People will surprise you.

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