"The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant." — Max De Pree
This quote, from Max DePree is among my favorite servant leadership quotes. This frames 3 roles every leader must fulfill: the roles of Realist, Praiser and Servant. I would like to extend this line of thinking to that of a Lean Leader specifically.
What are the qualities of a good Lean Leader? This is one of the most contemplated questions when undergoing a Lean thinking transformation since leadership is critical to it’s very success. In my opinion there are at least 10 key responsibilities for a Lean leader:
- Learn Lean Thinking
- Get out front, be hands on, don’t delegate
- Take lots of leaps of faith
- Change metrics and set stretch goals
- Create an environment where it is ok to fail
- Provide air cover for early adopters
- Eliminate concrete heads
- Have a no layoff policy
- Organize around value streams
- Change any compensation system that doesn’t support Lean
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