There aren’t many companies out there that have a history as long, distinguished and proven as LIXIL Group’s. Though the Group itself was born from a merger only in 2011, the formerly disparate elements that make up the company today, date back across the better part of two centuries, giving the company an enormous wealth of true industry experience.
LIXIL makes pioneering water and housing products that solve everyday, real-life challenges, making better homes a reality for everyone, everywhere. It crafts bathroom products, windows, kitchens, tiles, wooden interiors and more. LIXIL’s product brands include American Standard, GROHE, INAX and Tostem.
Today, the Japanese housing materials and equipment manufacturer is tenaciously expanding its international presence, having already made acquisitions in the US, Germany and Italy since 2011. Managing even one division of such a rapidly growing company is no mean feat, but LIXIL Group Asia–Pacific CEO Bijoy Mohan believes the company is progressing well.
“Internally, our biggest challenge was to integrate the different businesses and brands that LIXIL has acquired over the years, and Asia represents the most complex combination of entities, brands and business units,” he says. “We’ve made tremendous progress over the past three years, and now see great synergy with respect to customer relationships, sales channels, manufacturing platforms, R&D and so on. It’s very interesting how being a multi-brand portfolio has forced us to really focus on the raison d’être, the sole or ultimate purpose, for each brand, making each one stronger than when they were standalone businesses.”
For Bijoy, the expansion of LIXIL in Asia is the metric that he measures his accomplishments against; he’s one of those leaders who would rather judge by results than accolades. “I would define personal success as purely based on what I create rather than what I become,” he says. “Creating the fastest-growing business in the industry in the Asia–Pacific, or creating a product loved by millions of consumers is success, more than any title or position that one may attain.”
“I would define personal success as purely based on what I create rather than what I become.”
This promising development throughout the Asia–Pacific region is in part thanks to LIXIL’s distributed leadership. Through this system, the various regions under Bijoy’s supervision are overseen semi-independently by competent leaders, so Bijoy himself is involved less in the minutiae of day-to-day business, and more in large-scale, strategic decisions. Of course, he provides a firm hand in motivating each leader, but is careful not to over-manage.
“Good senior leaders are all self-motivated,” says Bijoy. “All they need is clarity on what outcomes we’re working towards, why we are choosing particular tactics and check-ins on whether we are on track. If I’m able to provide that, which is something I always strive for, I believe motivation takes care of itself.”
Bijoy also takes time to just catch up with staff. “Almost every day in the office, I have a 30-minute coffee conversation with a randomly picked employee,” he says. “It opens my mind to something I may be missing, a new opportunity, or just helps me understand if there is clarity across the board.”
As well as this, Bijoy finds it beneficial to be as ambitious as possible; to shoot for the sky and risk missing, rather than aiming too low and achieving little. “One thing I learned is to identify the best possible outcome in any situation, however crazily optimistic that may be. We then start looking at why we believe we can or cannot get there. We often find that many roadblocks can be overcome and the biggest barrier was one of imagination, or not being bold enough to articulate the outcome we wanted.”
While Bijoy knows how to inspire the individuals under his command, the company as a whole is continually motivated by the goal of making the entire home decoration or renovation experience easy and enjoyable for customers. The priority is adding value to the end-to-end consumer journey.
“As long as we deliver on that promise, we believe the industry will grow, and LIXIL will be at the forefront,” says Bijoy. “This will force us to be a disrupter in the industry – with respect to value chains, management of influencers and materials. So we will disrupt, but always with a view to deliver on our purpose.”