"It has been well said that the effective leader must know the meaning and master the technique of the educator." — Philip Selznick
A leader must be a good teacher. Leaders must be able to be good teachers to share insights and experiences. Leaders can inspire, motivate, and influence subordinates at various levels through the use of teaching ability. Obviously, one must be a good communicator in order to be an effective teacher. Without the ability to clearly and effectively communicate a message, goal, story, or philosophy, it is impossible to lead.
In a Lean organization, learning is critical, and line management's direct responsibility. Lean is based on how people think; simply defined, Lean is shared thinking. Management and employees need common philosophy, ideas, and principles. Leaders can't just put workers into situations, and hope they learn the right things. They should take responsibility for the message, combining real-life experience with direct coaching. An organization's principles should become guideposts to help people make tough decisions.
Lean Leaders must not only be teachers, they must also preach and promote teaching at all levels. Lean Leaders make sure that all of their direct reports are good teachers. In classical leadership, the role of teaching is frequently delegated – not so with the Lean Leaders.
The Lean Leader must teach leadership. This is the real key to sustaining the gains. Teach them to keep a focus, teach them how to get their resources aligned and teach them how not to “de-motivate” their subordinates and peers and you will have gone a long way toward teaching leadership.
To teach, a leader has to learn, and learning Lean is more than a cerebral exercise By applying Lean to everything, a leader becomes a more effective teacher. Remember what leadership is really about: It's not a job; it's an act. Leaders have to learn how to teach, build creative tension, and eliminate fear and comfort. Leaders need to actively participate in the transformation of the business, and apply Lean to their own jobs.