4 Ways We Define Leadership from a Lean Perspective
The Lyall team has been working together for over 50 years now. And for 21 of those years, we’ve been traveling together on our lean manufacturing journey. We’ve learned a lot along the way, but one the most important things we’ve picked up is how important it is to never forget the people amid the process.
After all, great lean processes don’t just happen; they require great people who operate like great leaders, regardless of their position in the organization. Following is a quick four-point breakdown explaining how we define leadership from a lean perspective at Lyall.
#1. Great Leaders Look for Themselves
Whether they’re a floor manager or machine operator, an employee with a “go-see-for-myself” approach will always be a key player in a lean company. Such people understand the importance of data, metrics and signs, but they also know how critical it is to get a firsthand look when there’s a problem or question. The employee with a see-for-myself attitude is willing to physically go and learn whether they can assist in improving a process or solving a problem. This builds relationships across teams, and paves the way for collaboration and idea-sharing among employees with diverse expertise.
#2. Great Leaders Brainstorm and Collaborate to Make Processes Better
When there’s a problem on the floor, you’ll always find your best leaders working together to solve it. These “go-seers” tend to naturally gather and form temporary cross-functional brainstorming teams to address an issue. As they discuss the problem, the workers share solutions from their unique perspectives. All the while, the problem at hand is being solved, and the team members are learning new ways to approach future problems.
#3. Great Leaders Listen and Care
Over the years, we’ve learned that empathy is one of the greatest qualities of a true lean leader. That’s because an employee (again, regardless of their position in the organization) who’s willing to take the time to listen to, and care about, other team members is often the catalyst for improvement. Others tend to gravitate toward and follow these kinds of people – and respect their ideas. And, unsurprisingly, these workers’ ideas tend to be awesome!
#4. Great Leaders Are Open to Ideas
An openness to innovative, collaborative problem-solving cannot be overemphasized as a lean leadership quality. An employee who projects a know-it-all attitude is typically unwilling to explore the ideas of other team members, and this is totally destructive to a smooth-running lean process. Conversely, workers who have an openness to other team members’ solutions and insights are essential to the success of continual improvement efforts.
Have you observed (or do you possess) any great leadership qualities that we didn’t mention? If so, please share! We’d love to hear how others define leadership from a lean perspective.