About Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is defined as “self-respect and feelings of self-worth based on self-evaluation, or respecting/valuing oneself.” It is considered necessary to enhance self-esteem in order to attain successful performance. Enhanced self-esteem refers to a condition where there is no gap between the perceived or desired self and actual self, and one can express one's true self with a good understanding of oneself. “Self” in this context means “self concept,” which is perceived through the process of thinking about the ideal and actual self.

High self-esteem is considered to play an important role in improving the productivity of individuals and organizations and enhancing the quality of human relationships. The concept of self-esteem is thus attracting attention in various fields such as business, education and leadership development, but in Japan, there is often misunderstanding of the meaning of the term* due to cultural reasons. RISE is committed to facilitating the correct understanding of and disseminating the concept of self-esteem in Japan through various research and study projects. Let us help you recognize your self-concept to enhance self-esteem so that you will be able to approve of and have confidence in yourself the way you are, take pride in your worth and act positively.

Thoughts on self-esteem

The Japanese people and self-esteem:
Addressing issues facing everyone from children to adults
Kimiko Horii

We founded the NPO, GEWEL, in 2003 and have carried out various activities to promote Diversity and Inclusion in Japanese society and Japanese corporations so that the Japanese people may recover the energy and vitality it once had through respecting the different values and viewpoints that each member in Japanese society has. In Japanese society, gender diversity is an area that needs to be prioritized the most and, to this end, I engaged in a number of research projects and had the opportunity to give training courses to female employees in the corporations I visited. With Japan undergoing a dramatic change in demographics, being faced with issues such as an aging society and a decrease in the labor population, top management in Japanese corporations will need to turn their eyes to the female employees in their companies. The number of female management figures is increasing and women now have more opportunities to take a more decision-making role in the workplace. Still there is a long way to go, but Japanese society is reaching the point where it recognizes each person's ability and potential regardless of their gender.

However there are still a certain number of women who do not believe in themselves. I fully understand that women, who up until recently hadn't been expected and did not even think about taking a leadership role in their place of work, could not change their attitude so quickly to meet this shift in mindset. On the other hand, society will not change if women are not willing to pursue change. So I started to hold a workshop named “Develop your own brand,” which includes a section on enhancing each participant's self-esteem in order to convince women that they are a worthwhile and capable person. By doing so, I have seen many women regain their self-confidence, which further convinced me of the importance of self-esteem. It was then that I started to think about devoting the next phase of my life to studies on self-esteem.

Another issue related to self-esteem is with regards to Japanese children – the future leaders of Japan. According to various research, Japanese children have been said to have low self-esteem compared to children in other countries. Is this because of cultural differences? Will this be an obstacle for future Japanese leaders when competing with people from various cultural backgrounds? I would like to conduct research in order to shed light on this type of issue with children.

Finally, I would like to contribute to Japanese society by finding out a way for people to nurture a healthy self-esteem in order to restore energy to Japanese society.

Forging human relationships and behavior abilities:
Improving self-efficacy to help develop healthy people
Hitomi Konishi

As a Career Development Adviser, I have been working with many university students and young businesspeople. When I held my class on Career Development in several universities, I found that students did not have the ability to build up appropriate human relationships or to initiate action by themselves. I felt that a major cause for the above phenomena was that they could not initiate action for matters in which they had little experience. For example they tended to avoid discussing serious issues with others, they would stay with the same circle of friends and would not build up new relationships with other people and would not take action on their own initiative. They would just follow the direction they were given and did not act on their volition. I thought that this was because of their low self-esteem.

So I paid special attention to coaching them to build interpersonal relationships and facilitated in getting them to take self-directed action. As a result, many students changed. They became able to initiate action of their own accord and to start communicating with strangers. How did I do this? I respected their self-esteem and established a rapport with each and every one of them. Then I had them discuss about the importance of talking with others to solve issues by themselves.

In other words, they became aware of the improvement in their abilities through acting independently and arguing their own viewpoints. My class was based around getting them to make this realization. Students became fully convinced of their abilities and the atmosphere in the class room improved significantly. People can improve their self-esteem by going out of their comfort zone and attempting new things.

For someone to try something new, they first need to develop an “I can do it” mindset. By convincing themselves of their own abilities, people can really make new movement. According to Bandura's theory of “Self-efficacy,” one person's self-efficacy is closely related with the actions that person takes.

Self-efficacy is one person's self-evaluation of whether that person can successfully conduct one action or not. If one person has a high self-efficacy, they will take frequent action to solve an issue at hand in working towards achieving a successful result. However if someone's self-efficacy is low the possibility of failing to achieve good results is high. Thus there exists a sort of positive cycle, where high self-efficacy leads to good results, which then lead to high self-esteem.

My final goal is to enhance self-esteem and in order to do so, I would like to focus on the improvement of people's self-efficacy.

Spreading the concept of self-esteem:
Creating a ‘new Japan’ on the back of global leaders and leadership development
Nobuo Udagawa

In my 32 years of experience working for some of the world's leading multinational companies, I have learned the importance of Diversity and Inclusion management in operating a business and leading an organization in a cross-cultural environment. I have realized the crucial role of Diversity and Inclusion management through my own first-hand experience coordinating and dealing with “different cultures” in my career, such as taking courses at a university in the U.S., receiving training in the U.K., serving as an executive committee member of a labor union, handling complex communication with markets and headquarters overseas, and managing M&A processes.

To bring my expertise and enthusiasm in promoting Diversity and Inclusion to a wider range of endeavors, I joined GEWEL (Global Enhancement Women's Executive Leadership), an NPO committed to supporting Japanese businesswomen in expanding their leadership abilities on both a national and international level. As a Director at GEWEL, while advocating Diversity and Inclusion in business and society in Japan, I have come to realize that we need to develop a new generation of leaders with a new model of leadership for a new era in this country. At the same time, I have come to believe that self-esteem is indispensable for effective leadership, and that we need to raise the awareness and understanding of this concept in Japanese society.

On the subject of self-esteem, I have a personal story to share. When I decided to leave a company I had worked at for many years, there had been a series of events that had compromised my self-esteem. I felt that what I considered my strengths and contributions were completely denied and disregarded. I did not know who I was or what to do any more. It was then that I stumbled on a workshop on self-esteem. I took the workshop, and I discovered new self concepts, which helped me rebuild my self-esteem.

In joining RISE, I hope to be able to bring my business and personal experience to help and support those who are losing confidence in themselves or losing sight of their goals in this difficult time. The theme I would like to pursue is: The reality of self-esteem in contemporary Japan and its relationship with the development of a new generation of leaders and a new model of leadership in Japanese society. We now find ourselves in a situation where we must seek sustainable growth amidst economic stagnation and a declining population. It would be my honor to be able to contribute to the building of a “New Japan” through my research on self-esteem, which I believe is key in developing new leaders who would make that growth possible.