Friday, February 7, 2020

Lean Quote: Managers Light a Fire Under People; Leaders Light a Fire in People

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.


"Managers light a fire under people; leaders light a fire in people.  — Kathy Austin

While a leader can be a boss, not every boss is a leader. The distinction between being a boss and being a leader may seem small, but it means the world to the people who work for you. 

The definition of leadership is “a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal.” That is why it is my belief that if you are a good leader for your organization, then you really don’t need to worry about being The Boss. You will gain more influence and have more positive impact on your organization if your team feels valued and respected and has an understanding of where you expect them to be headed.

Here are few key points on leadership:

  • A company is a community, not a machine.  When building a synergy on any team, you have to start by building trust and confidence up and down the chain of command.  Start by developing a vision that is easy to communicate and easy to comprehend. Once your team understands the collective vision and goals of the organization, individual goals become closely tied to the collective goal.  Brainstorm with your team and listen intently to suggestions and incorporate best practices.
  • Management is service, not control.  Once a vision is established, a great leader constantly queries his/her managers to see if they have the tools necessary to excel.  Once the tools are determined and obtained, empower your managers to make decisions on their own, but always make it clear that you are available to assist at any time.
  • Employees are my peers, not my children.  This point ties into the previous point about providing service.  Nobody in any organization likes to be “talked down to” or constantly second-guessed.  Treat your team members as you would expect to be treated.  Remember, you want to encourage the sharing of ideas.

A great leader recognizes the value in individual team members and ensures that their talents are being utilized in the most effective manner. Provides constructive feedback and seek it yourself.  Remember, we are pursuing excellence each and every day.

Being an effective leader means saying, and believing, that the buck stops with you. That your role is to set a vision, give employees the direction, support, and tools they need to reach success and then get out of the way and allow them the room they need to move forward.  You and your organization will be poised for greater success if you remind yourself of this every day – and you too might find that simply keeping a list like this handy on your desk is an easy way to keep yourself on the right path.

During your life, you will face two kinds of managers: leaders and bosses. It does not matter how high the position of these individuals; bossy people are more likely to fail while those who lead will succeed.

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