Why the “Sensei”?

Updated: Jan 26


Every business leader should aspire to be the “Sensei.” Let’s look at the parallels…

The Sensei is someone who Inspires, Empowers and Guides people to their very best. The most successful business leaders do the same. They understand that by encouraging and supporting the growth, development and success of the people in the organization the organization itself is more successful.

They also realize that for a genuine leader, the truest measure of success is the success of the people they serve.

A Sensei Inspires––and mostly by example.

The literal translation of the Japanese word “sensei” is: “one who went before.” What a perfect imprint for a genuine leader.

People trust leaders who have walked the walk. They have the deepest respect for leaders who continue to walk the walk––no matter how successful they are.

This means being a living example for others. Not in a self-aggrandizing or aloof way. Quite the opposite.

The Sensei is a humble servant of the people who demonstrates by example that he or she is continually learning, growing, evolving and transforming as a person and as a leader.

"People follow examples much more enthusiastically than they do orders."

Your example can be a powerful inspirational force.

A Sensei Empowers––by sharing.

Think about it. Unless you are a hermit, you are only as powerful as the people around you.

Power is your ability or capacity to act or perform effectively––your ability to get things done. A leader’s power is completely dependent on the power and effectiveness of the people he or she serves––the people who trust their leadership.

Make others more powerful and you get more done. You do this by sharing power, authority and the rewards of success. As Lao Tzu taught long ago:

“The wise man does not lay up his own treasures. The more he gives to others the more he has for his own.”

And your 3 greatest treasures as a leader are respect, trust and loyalty. What can you possibly accomplish without the respect, trust and loyalty of the people you serve?

If you want more––give freely.

Finally, you empower people through opportunity. Specifically, opportunity for personal and professional mastery. This means providing training and resources for continual learning, growth and development.

A Sensei guides…

The Sensei is a mentor, a teacher, a coach––a guide. The Sensei does not do the work of the student, but rather guides the student through their own personal journey.

The Sensei guides a student on the path to mastery––to the Black Belt. This journey is sometimes painful and frustrating. It involves sometimes harsh criticism and swift correction.

It also requires constant encouragement, recognition and guidance. The Sensei learns how to apply each at the right time in the right quantity and with the right voice.

The most effective leaders take a deeply personal interest in the people they serve. They lead with Compassion, Courage and Wisdom––just like the Sensei.

Their success is your success. The more you invest in guiding people to their best, the more they invest your vision and success.

The research is overwhelming. From Gallup to Harvard Business and around the world we see the same data again and again. Human-centric leaders are outperforming the competition. They are leading the most innovative, creative and successful organizations. They are producing results.

These are the leaders who, whether they know it or not, embody the ideals of the Sensei. These are the leaders who walk the walk…

And their people are more than willing to walk that walk with them.

And that’s what THE SENSEI LEADER is all about.



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