A manufacturer is in many ways an image of its leadership, with the executive’s style, tone, and behavior reflected throughout the organization. Leadership’s role is even more critical in organizations undertaking lean transformations.
Too often manufacturing leaders — corporate- or plant-level — downplay their critical roles in lean transformations. Subsequently, improvement efforts fail to get off the ground or more commonly, they plateau and fade.
But what are these common tendencies quick to hamper leaders from fully driving their organizations to operational excellence?
- Grabbing Initiatives: A desire to quickly jump to the “next thing” without giving a single system-based approach sufficient time or support to take root
- Short-Termism: Leaders fixated on quick results for the next month or quarter, especially at public companies, tend to take unproductive shortcuts to get quick
- Micro-Management: Reluctance to let go and allow managers to manage and frontline employees to tackle the problems they face daily.
These leadership tendencies undermine operational transformations. But there is good news: there are clear lean-leader attributes to emulate, and it is possible for executives to change and, in the process, dramatically improve their organizations.
Instead of steam rolling through initiatives, aiming for short term objectives, and going overboard with micro-management, leaders should look to exhibit these three alternative traits that promote long-term holistic and sustainable success:
- Organizational Patience: Leave initiatives in place long enough to gain traction so that you may optimize the current potential at hand to its fullest, before moving on to the next big idea. In some cases, leaders will need to allocate time to modeling out the transformation to drive engagement before looking enterprise-wide.
- Establish a Long-Term Vision: Short-term objectives are usually driven by financial targets, and other external sources. However, if the short-term targets aren’t taking you closer to your greater vision then those targets can have a detrimental long-term impact.
- Lead and Let Go: Successful leaders are detail driven, but sometimes that can lead to being too involved.
Early on, when implementing change with a performance system structure, leaders should roll up their sleeves and be hands on. However, after the initial modeling phase, it becomes strategic to managing replication to let go. Trust your organization and provide them with the training to succeed.
Interested in learning more about these tendencies and their counter-actions? Contact us today.