Interview with Dr. Jeffrey K. Liker 1) Can you tell us something about the role of leaders at Toyota? – we have learned that they should be mentors. What exactly happens at Toyota in terms of leadership? The most important role of a leader at Toyota is developing others. Leaders take responsibility for major challenges, e.g., the launch of a new vehicle or a 25 percent reduction in inventory, but are expected to achieve the goals by motivating others and in the process giving others a chance to develop new capabilities. Sometimes this is called ’servant leadership’ in that the leader is providing support for subordinates while still leading them. President Watanabe recently gave a good example of this. In 1976 he was transferred from public affairs to purchasing as an assistant manager responsible for facility construction. How could he possibly know….