The business tycoon, whose group includes the tech behemoth, Samsung Electronics Co., returned home from a three-month overseas trip that included extended stays in the U.S. and Japan. Upon arrival in Seoul on a private jet, Lee said Samsung should not be lulled into a sense of complacency.
"There is a need to have crisis awareness at all times," he told a group of reporters, adding that Samsung needs to work harder, think more deeply and have greater foresight when carrying out research and development.
Business sources said Lee's emphasis on "crisis" is nothing new, since he has been highlighting risks and dangers ever since he took control of the conglomerate over two decades ago following the death of his father and Samsung founder Lee Byung-chull.
In 1993, Lee called top Samsung executives into a meeting in Germany, during which he urged them to develop a new business mindset and change everything except "your wives and children."
His willingness to make drastic changes has been the hallmark of Samsung's new management plan that has transformed the conglomerate into a top player in the international arena.
He again said in 2010 that Samsung was facing a serious crisis and its future was uncertain.
When Samsung reported new sales and earnings records last year, Lee said that the conglomerate had a "long way to go" and repeated the same message in his New Year's address in January.
In that message, Lee said that 2013 promises to be tough times and advised his employees to forget past successes and start afresh to tackle new big challenges looming ahead.
While Samsung Electronics is flying high on the success of its smartphone operations, other affiliates have suffered from the slumping global economy.
"Because there is concern that something new must be done to overcome the myriad of challenges being faced by Samsung, there is a chance that the group may announce a whole new management strategy," said a business insider who declined to be identified.