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Leading Lean and Lean Leadership Part 2

Comparing Lean and Leadership

Several years ago I developed, defined and taught what I called “Conflicting Pairs”  Essentially pairs of Lean Leadership behaviors that on one side of the ledger were easier things to do and on the other side were more the right things to do. As I reflect, I am now convinced that I should have paired the behaviors as Leading Lean behaviors on one side of ledger and Lean Leadership behaviors on the other. Let me it clear that this is NOT about which side is right/wrong, good/bad, or better/best. It is simply to further define and help leaders understand the differences between leading lean and lean leadership. The list of pairs has grown a bit over the years and hopefully this will be helpful.

Lean Leadership Leading Lean
Support—Webster defines support as “To aid the cause by approving, favoring, or advocating” Engaged—Webster defines engaged as “To involve oneself or become occupied—participation”
Delegate-It is obviously easy to delegate and demand. It often does not require vision and frequently does not require knowledge. Direction-Direction cannot occur for individuals or an organization without a vision or certainly without the knowledge.
Tools-Many lean tools are remarkably simple and easy to implement like Five S (usually the 1st), waste elimination or even kaizen events. Implementation is easy but sustaining is difficult. Directing an organization to implement certain tools without understand their purpose is not sustainable. Culture-Affecting the culture is difficult. It requires changing the common belief system of the organization. It requires leaders to openly provide the repetitive experiences that develop and impact a lean belief system. Individuals generally will not do what they do not value. Establishing purpose builds value.
Preach– Preaching can certainly be emotional and inspirational but preaching does not guarantee nor often is it a reflection of practice. Teach– To teach you must first learn, and if you have truly learned, your thinking and behaviors (practices) will change.
Walk-Management by Walking Around (MBWA) was a popular yet highly ineffective management concept of the “80’s and early “90’s”.  It was not a bad concept.  It was just poorly executed.  MBWA without the skills is just a walk.  Maybe it is a good exercise but is usually no more than “industrial tourism”. Observe-Observation requires the skills to surface waste, observe activities, connections, and flows, and offer mechanisms for solutions or improvements. Observing requires skills.  Walking only requires movement.
Transfer-Often we subrogate or transfer responsibility and accountability to others without first providing them the skills and knowledge to succeed.  We somehow expect they will pick it up along the way.  Some do but most do not. Empower-Empowerment requires enlightenment and education (skills) first before requiring responsibility and accountability.
Driving goals and metrics-Defining, communicating, and driving goals and metrics down the organization is important but ineffective if individuals cannot connect their work to those goals. Connecting goals and metrics-NO employee at any level should perform any activity without being able to connect their work to the goals and metrics. They should be able to recognize and connect the IMPACT of their work.
Stress- Stress is generally the result of a feeling of helplessness wrapped in a cloud of uncertainty.  Stress is obviously not a good thing simply because of the wear and tear it puts on an organization and often is not intentionally imposed upon an organization. Tension- Tension is recognizing the gap between a desired state and the current and realizing the potential to narrow the gap. Interestingly enough, tension will relieve the stress.
Accountability-Obviously, it is the leader’s responsibility to hold their employees and the company accountable for their acts and activities. Freedom (democracy)-Just like in a democratic society; a leader should recognize that certain individuals have earned the “right” to hold themselves accountable.
Inventor-Many of the best ideas or solutions are never accepted or adopted. It is not the leader’s role to come up with the next best idea. Innovator-Innovation is about getting a new idea or solution accepted and applied. The leader’s role is to “sell” the idea(s) and get them accepted.


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