Naturally, there are some cultural differences between Asian countries, but all seem to believe in putting oneself second to the team, or group, for the betterment of all. I greatly admire that in Asian culture.
Japan is definitely among the Asian cultures that subscribe to the philosophy of the team vs. the individual. This is a good overview (Doing Business in Japan), but, in a nutshell, what’s stressed within Japan’s social and business etiquette is that teamwork and group cohesiveness are of great importance. In Japanese culture, the individual relies on the group for identity, and in business, the people place great emphasis on compromise and self-discipline for the sake of the team.
The Japanese, great proponents of teamwork, start with an advantage: their intellectual tradition isn’t adversarial. Like the spirit of the Olympics, Japanese culture relies on the power of teamwork rather than an individual’s reward to achieve its goals. Winning isn’t a bad thing, but how one wins: with honor and respect for others, is very important.
ONE LAST THING…
Asian culture is packed with reverence for teamwork. The Gung Ho! business model is based on the fundamentals of two Chinese characters forming the word Gung Ho, which translates to “Work” and “Together.” This approach, according to its author Ken Blanchard, “… focuses on sharing of information; aligning purpose, values, and goals of people and organization; frontline decision making responsibility; and celebration of successes…”—in other words, teamwork. Japan has survived many upheavals, including wartime destruction, natural and weather-related destruction, and financial crises by practicing the philosophy of “work together.”
We also practice the theory of Gung Ho! at Shamrock, and I believe that, as a company, like our Asian counterparts, we have survived through various upheavals these last 30 years, mainly because we rely on the work (and intelligence) of the team over the pride of one individual.