Posted by: productivityinc | August 22, 2012

Lean Needs Leaders

Many of our recent posts have focused on leadership.  We’re afraid we are beginning to sound like a broken record.  So why do we keep posting on the issue?  Well…

Most of the companies we encounter are doing very well with implementation of the Lean techniques.  If Lean success was just about implementing the techniques, most of them would be world class.  Unfortunately for them (and many others) Lean success lies more in how you manage change than in making technical changes.  And that’s where they (and others) continue to falter.

It is easy to go on a diet…it is much harder to stay on a diet and it is harder still to toss the word diet from your vocabulary all together and make the lifestyle change necessary to incorporate healthy eating and exercise into your everyday – something you always do but never have to think about.

We’ve said it and you’ve heard it thousands of times.  To be successful, Lean needs to become part of daily work – – something everyone always does but never thinks about.  To accomplish this, the effort needs to be led at every level in the organization.  Led, not managed.  There is a BIG difference between managing and leading; between a Manager and a Leader.    Lean needs Leaders.

So, are you a Manager or a Leader?  Here are a few things to consider when answering….

  • Managers give the what, why, and “How”…leaders encourage and expect the “how” to come from the value-adders.
  • Managers are more “authoritarian”, leaders are more “persuasive”
  • Managers have all the answers, even before the question is asked!  Leaders answer questions with another question…What do you think we should do?  What does your team think about it?…in short: managers give answers, leaders ask questions.
  • Managers look for someone to blame…leaders don’t blame people, they ask what in the process needs to be improved, and then they allow/empower their people to make that change!
  • Managers use the “5 Who’s” problem solving tool…Leaders use the “5Why’s” to get to the real root-cause.

Followers emulate their leaders.  How you lead at your level will have a direct effect on how others lead at theirs.  If you see your people behaving like managers…remember… your people are a mirror-reflection of yourself!


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