Lean Leadership Begins with Executive and Management Teams

By David Sherman, Lean Supply Chain Operations Manager at LeanCor

Lean LeadershipIn lean, one of the fundamental differences in culture begins with the executive and management teams. In the typical business environment these high level employees are generally seen in manner that induces fear and doesn’t facility nor promote learning and growth. These bosses are more about giving orders and pushing the employees to get more done without providing them the tools or the coaching. Lean leaders on the other hand are the opposite. Lean leadership is involved in coaching and mentoring their teams to drive success in an organization. These types of leaders must be present at ever level of the organization and must permeate the culture in order to be successful. Some key attributes set lean leadership apart from the norm.

Lean Leadership is Facilitating Learning Environments

Lean leaders are driven to empower their employees to not only be better employees but better people all around. These leaders are giving their teams the tools, information, drive, and goals to make it to the next level. By fostering a learning culture these teams are often better prepared to overcome struggles and gaps but also by understanding where gaps exist before they become a problem. Lean leaders are also aware to the fact that they are students as well as teachers in these relationship as well. Lean leaders foster great relationships with their team and are approachable at all times for coaching and facilitating learning environments. Maintaining high levels of humility sets a lean leader apart from the norm of management. Humility allows the leader to understand customer and employee issues and get the appropriate parties involved to solve the issues. By being humble and approachable leader, these managers are setting an example for their employees on how to be leaders as well for when they advance further in their careers.

Lean Leadership is Being Present in Daily Work

Another key aspect of lean leadership is being present in the daily work. Lean leaders don’t sit in offices away from where the work is being done, they are generally right there on the ground with their teams at the gemba. This mentality and practice allows leaders to understand issues and gaps in real time and facilitates problem solving as well. Lean leaders are involved in the daily work and can be there to make decision in real time with the help and direction of their team members while using the company’s principles to drive action and achieve results. A lean leader also celebrates with his/her team when there is a success. Even a small success can be something worth celebrating and can help a team reach its attainable goals with confidence. If a leader is unable to help celebrate these successes teams will feel that their work is not as valuable nor as successful as previously thought. Lean leaders also thoroughly understand that processes are broken and people are rarely the cause of issues. If a process is broken a leader is there to help coach the team members through the problem solving process to understand how to repair it moving forward.

All in all, it’s important to have strong leaders in a company. It is important that lean leadership is prevalent in order to facilitate a problem solving, humble, and waste eliminating culture. Without having these attributes, employees will not feel as comfortable nor be as productive if they are worrying about their bosses all of the time.

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