Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Toyota’s 4 Stages of Leader Development


Many organizations have trouble sustaining Lean. Toyota is one of the few exceptions. According to Jeffrey Liker and Gary Convis in their book “The Toyota Way to Lean Leadership”, their secret is their leadership system.

Toyota provides a nurturing but challenging environment, to ensure that new Lean leaders are developed continuously. The leaders at Toyota break down a mentorship role into 4 categories.

Self-Development
Development of Others
Further Development of Others – Support Daily Kaizen
Improving the Goals

These four categories are ongoing in the development process of creating and being lean leaders.
In self-development, lean leaders develop awareness within themselves. Internal and external alertness of strengths, weaknesses, and needs leads to more focus and mindfulness in what they do. This increases personal productivity and problem-solving abilities, preparing them to teach these principles to their employees.

Toyota’s leaders teach their employees to self-examine in a way that matches each individual’s personality. Lean leaders never try to make their followers see things from their point of view. Rather, they ask leading questions and present personal challenges to their employees to inspire them to rise and find the personal conclusion themselves. This encourages creativity, focus and a spirit of self-discovery in the employees. By developing their employees in such a way, lean leaders create more freethinking leaders underneath them. Not only does this boost morale and productivity, but this practice will allow the values of the company to instill themselves in the hearts of employees.

Kaizen, the underlying philosophy behind Toyota’s leadership style, has close ties to the idea of continuous improvement. This means that it must be practiced regularly, ideally on a daily basis, otherwise there isn’t much point in applying it to the work of the company. The leader must coach their workers with a bottom-up approach, and must always retain their focus on the company’s improvement.

Once team members understand these values in the heart, they are on their way to becoming lean leaders themselves. Leaders cannot learn these skills in a classroom but need to live them every moment of their lives. This ongoing practice makes Toyota’s leadership system sustainable.

It’s no secret that Toyota are one of the most progressive companies on the planet, and surprisingly, the key to their success is no secret either. They are quite open about the ideas that make their business work successfully, and the rest of the world has a lot to learn from the concepts implemented in their production facilities.

Mastering the four stages of leader development can be of huge benefit to any company, regardless of the field they’re involved in, and it’s an important part of the growth of any person in a leadership position.


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