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The Essence of Lean Leadership

Lean Leadership Requires Discipline


I was recently asked during The Lean Leadership Podcast hosted by Chris Burnham “What advice might I give an organization that is well on it’s way in their lean journey”.  Not an easy question to quickly answer but I didn’t hesitate–DISCIPLINE.  Jim Collins in his book “Good to Great” discusses discipline as essential to level 5 leadership. He references 3 forms of discipline: disciplined people, disciplined thought and disciplined actions. With disciplined people you can minimize hierarchy: with disciplined thought you can minimize bureaucracy; and with disciplines actions you can minimize wasteful controls. If the Green Bay Packers had simply been discipline on an onside kick during the final moments of the NFC playoffs they would have been the team playing the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. The had the right people, in the right place with the right skills they simply were not disciplined in their actions. I would add one more discipline to Jim Collins level 5 leadership criteria and that is “disciplined attention”. Sounds redundant, but as an organization matures, leading lean requires disciplined attention to the people, action and thoughts of the organization. A lean leaders responsibility is to overcome distractions and help them maintain their focus. Listen to my podcast and the podcast of my good friend and long time partner Jamie Flinchbaugh to dig deeper into the essence of lean leadership.

One comment

  1. Hi andy your comment on disciplined attention is very critical. In fact it is because often leaders allow themselves to get distracted from what their true goals are that organizations end up failing. It can be very easy to not see the forest because of the trees. Leaders often get stuck dealing with the big easy to see issues yet, all to often they are nothing more than a smoke screen for the real underlying issues, many of which are outdated control measures, poor processes, and bad culture. These items are that other part of the forest all the other floral and fauna that together with the tree actually make up the forest.

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