Leadership Principles From The Bushido Code
The one amazing thing about leadership principles is that they are proven truths throughout time. The application of these principles changes over generations and cultures, but the truths always remain the same.
If you are a student of leadership, you will always find proof that undergirds these principles. This was proven in my kid’s karate class by their dojo’s Sensai.
He wrote a post on their social media page about the Bushido Code and how it applies to the principles he is teaching the kids in the community about being good leaders and citizens. I decided to look it up and was impressed at the leadership truths it showed.
The Bushido Code was a code of conduct and ethics for the Samurai warrior. It laid out those principles that were shown to elicit the highest degree of moral character, respect, and order in society. A Samurai who held to the code also set the example for the culture of the family and the rest of the community.
While there are a few variations of the Code, the are seven main basics of the code that build character and an overall respect in oneself as towards others. Here are the seven Bushido Codes, with a general application to our leadership approach:
- Integrity. Other variations of the code include Righteousness or Rectitude. This means Justice, fairness in every dealing with other people. Making good on your dealings with other people. Consider all the factors at plays in dealing with everyone around you. A bushido is a self-controlled leader will deny themselves those things and privileges which will derail their credibility. A strong leader, like a strong samurai, will carry themselves with the utmost integrity, never wavering or compromising what is right.
- Respect. The Politeness and Value one gives to everyone else. Extending Courtesy in that other lives are valued highly and the responsibility you have to honor those who were before you (elders/leadership) and train up those who are behind you (children/next generation of leaders). Bushido leaders know that respect is gained through their consistent dealing with people, and not outward strength.
- Heroic Courage. Bushidos never waver in the face of fear or the face of compromise. They hold fast to Principles. Heroic courage is not a bravery to bend or break rules, but a courage to stand for them. It is also the courage to deny inner temptation that will compromise the Code, which compromises all others around oneself. Leaders with heroic courage know how to stand up even to the enemy within themselves.
- Honor. Having a good name in holding to principles, but also in a higher degree of Respect for others as well. Having a Dignity of worthiness in your work, your cause, and your purpose. The truly authentic leader exemplifies this code by being transparent and consistent in public and in private.
- Compassion. Benevolence. Showing Mercy by having an attitude of generosity, of sympathy, and forgiveness. Compassion serves others, even to the discomfort of self. These bushido leaders go out of their way to serve, and do not “turtle” themselves by hiding within their own cares. They help others at every opportunity.
- Honesty & Sincerity. More closely defined as Honesty. It’s having a Veracity, a Truthfulness, to everything you say and do. Their word is their bond, and that bond will never be broken. In an age where written contracts and even handshakes are marginalized, bushido leaders are renowned for their commitment to their word.
- Duty & Loyalty. Not just to self or the cause, but loyalty to others, law and order, society, and family. Exhibiting a personal Fidelity to others through other codes such as Respect, Sincerity, and Honor. The leader who knows their duty to others will exhibit a fierce loyalty in that as well, whether to faith, family, company, or nation. They take responsibility for their decisions and the resulting actions.
Any core value system, like the Bushido Code, should define our leadership both in our careers and in our personal lives. If more leaders applied time-proven principles such as those in the Bushido Code, the impact on the workplace and in society would be truly astounding.
Give yourself an excellent code of principles to anchor your leadership and impact the world around you.