Leadership – Part 2

Let’s continue the conversation around leader standards, leader standard work, and how leaders should conduct themselves.

Previously I spoke about truth, trust, sincerity, and how leading with these values will generate fun and therefore motivation in the business. Another point I’d like to recap on is that leaders should keep a bit of perspective about what their role as a leader in the business is, and how they can help their business get further ahead. Consider: what does Lean mean to you? And why are we really here?

So what does Lean mean for me? One of the things a lot of people really forget about is culture.  We focus too much on compliance with tools. The thing is when you actually look at transforming a business to be a Lean business; where people really think for themselves and really improve, and the business eliminates waste, we need to use an 80/20 rule perspective.

Lean implementation is more than often about cultural change. I find, in my own work, I spend about 80% of my time implementing change management. So this is about the culture. And it’s really important! You can put people in a classroom, and you can train them on the tools and techniques. But really, the important part of a Lean transformation is how people change the way they conduct themselves and how they act in a business. Leaders are responsible for nurturing that.

It’s important that leaders actually focus on a Lean implementation as a culture and change management piece. You don’t have to use change management tools or follow any change management methodology, but I certainly always keep that in my back pocket. People change for the better when the discomfort they feel in not moving toward a logical improvement overcomes the barriers to making that change. It is human nature to resist change because routine builds comfort and security. Strangely even when people acknowledge change will be beneficial they will struggle. As a leader, help them see what good looks like, help them by removing roadblocks to their progress and show a keen interest in their improvements. This lowers the barriers to change and progress toward a continuous improvement culture.

If 80% of Lean is culture, then 20% is tools. If you are developing the culture, then the tools will facilitate making the barriers to change lower, and your job as a leader easier. But remember, without most of your efforts focused on a continuous improvement culture, it’s like asking your employees to ride a bike without any understanding of how to do it, why they are doing it and what you hope to achieve as a team. The real sustained change in a culture of continuous improvement or Kaizen is from a grassroots momentum – it’s coming from the employees who do the work. So as a leader, encourage them all the time. It is known as continuous improvement using everyday practical wisdom.

If your focus is on a culture that thinks like that all the time, Lean tools will become a lot more valuable to you as a leader.

Want to know more? Continue the conversation with us!