Over the past several years, I have become a student of Leadership, and through my learning I have come to see everything with a Leadership bias. I see it all around, and continuing to study it more and more, I can more easily recognize the qualities and laws of leadership in those I observe. Now, I won’t bore you with all of the details (as it is linked to another passion of mine outside gaming) because I could go on and on about it. I would, however, like to point out a few things along the way.
It is fairly easy to see how Satoru Iwata is charismatic, competent, generous and a great visionary. It is not difficult to have seen him live without lids on his vision of what he and the company could do together, or navigate the company through the end of the GameCube and Gameboy eras and into the Wii and DS eras and beyond into a future that we are yet to be privy to completely.
Through communication, Iwata-san let us fans further inside of our favorite company by answering questions we had not even asked but wanted the answers to, with Iwata Asks. He gave us more content throughout the entire year, not just at the conferences such as E3, with Nintendo Direct! At the end of the day, most true fans, experienced exceptional leadership, even if they did not know it.
And now comes the Law of Legacy! Iwata-san’s legacy will continue to be realized for fans in the years to come, as Nintendo of America President and COO, Reggie Fils-Aime shared.
“Mr. Iwata is gone, but it will be years before his impact on both Nintendo and the full video game industry will be fully appreciated. He was a strong leader for our company, and his attributes were clear to most everyone: Intelligence, creativity, curiosity and sense of humor. But for those of us fortunate enough to work closely with him, what will be remembered most were his mentorship and, especially, his friendship. He was a wonderful man. He always challenged us to push forward…to try the new…to upset paradigms—and most of all, to engage, excite and endear our fans. That work will continue uninterrupted.”
Reggie’s remarks are but a few from the people who worked with Iwata-san and knew his leadership best. And so, as final goodbyes and farewells were being said during the wake and funeral services, who better to hear from, than one of the gentlemen stepping in to fill Iwata-san’s promise! Genyo Takeda, shared an extremely touching eulogy for Iwata-san which is translated below:
As we gather here today for a joint funeral with Nintendo Co., Ltd. and Mr. Iwata’s family, I would like to share my heartfelt condolences. President Iwata, allow me to call you Iwata-san, just as I always used to.
Iwata-san, you left us far too soon. Having just chaired our shareholders’ meeting the other day on June 26, the news of your sudden death has left all the employees overcome with a deep sorrow. The late Yamauchi-san passed the baton to you in naming you the president of Nintendo in 2002, and the two Senior Managing Directors of the company, Shigeru Miyamoto and I, have been assisting and working alongside you. Being rather short-tempered myself, the thing that I am most deeply struck by is that you were a true leader in every sense of the word, overflowing with compassion for people. You always maintained a two-way dialogue, even with the next generation of employees, or with much younger members of the development and marketing teams, or with employees outside of Japan whose different customs and cultures can make communication challenging — sometimes even admitting your own mistakes to them. You demonstrated this through your belief that people could eventually come to understand one another, and your strong conviction that the best way for us to grow is through patient communication, even if it took several times, a dozen times or even seemingly endless discussion.
You succeeded in planting the seed in employees’ hearts that, in order to solve an issue, there is a fundamental cycle whereby you make a hypothesis, execute the plan, see the result and then make adjustments, and by which you have caringly nurtured these seeds to sprout and mature into plants.
Until now, our successors and the younger generation would take a few first steps and then look back at you for guidance because they could not tell if they had chosen the right path. Today they cannot ask for your guidance anymore.
However, I am sure that they have already made the firm determination that they will continue on their own, making the hypothesis, executing the plan, seeing the results and reflecting on the results to improve and adjust by themselves.
In the face of your unbelievable passing it will surely take some time before we can emerge from this deep sorrow. Please know, however, that the seeds you have planted, and the plants that have sprouted will put forth small flowers as they bring smiles to the faces of people around the world, blossom into a grand flower bigger than even you, our leader, Iwata-san. Together with Miyamoto and others of our generation, we swear in our hearts that we will continue our efforts so that, someday, we can report and present to you the blossoming of these flowers. May you continuously watch over and guide us managers, our employees and your family.
On behalf of all of us, I would like to offer my heartfelt condolences and sincerest prayer. May you rest in peace, Iwata-san.
Seeing the legacy that Iwata-san is leaving behind, and knowing that it will become even more plain for us fans as time passes, I am more and more comforted every day. Thank you, Iwata-san, for being a live physical example of leadership, for sure!
As always, gaming is meant to be fun, so keep gaming!!