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Wednesday, April 10, 2024

How Can You Be a More Effective Lean Leader

Lean thinking is fundamentally transforming the way organizations operate. The Lean principles of continuous improvement, respect for people, and a relentless focus on delivering customer value are making teams and organizations rethink the practices that might have guided them for decades.

For Lean to be truly effective, it needs effective Lean Leadership — to champion Lean principles, offer guidance, and ensure that Lean is being used to optimize the entire organizational system for value delivery.

Here are six things you can do to become a more effective lean leader.

Show Respect for People:

Respect for people is a fundamental principle of Lean Leadership. It involves creating a work environment where employees feel valued, empowered, and respected. Lean leaders listen to their teams, involve them in decisions, and support their growth and development with resources. Leaders create a respectful culture where employees can share ideas, skills, and knowledge to enhance processes and promote innovation.

Provide Vision and Purpose

Lean leaders need to establish a clear vision and purpose for the organization’s Lean journey. They should communicate the importance of Lean principles and how they align with the overall mission and strategic goals. A compelling vision provides direction and serves as a guiding light for employees, inspiring them to actively participate in Lean initiatives.

Lead by Example

Leaders must lead by example and demonstrate their commitment to Lean principles. They should participate in Lean practices like going to the workplace, solving problems, and making continuous improvements. By visibly practicing Lean principles and lean management tools, leaders inspire others and create a culture of continuous learning and improvement.

Go to the Gemba

A lean leader must go to the gemba as often as possible. They must be present on the job site on a regular basis, actively engaging with the people closest to the customer- rather than spending most of their time in the office or conference rooms. This, as a result, ensures that they are able to truly understand the real situation, allowing them to take effective actions to improve performance.

A true lean leader frequents the workplace both when things are going well, and when problem arise - otherwise, employees are less likely to communicate the real situation if their boss only shows up when problems occur.

Foster Collaboration and Communication

Lean leadership emphasizes collaboration and communication among team members. By fostering an environment of open communication and encouraging teamwork, you can promote idea sharing and problem solving. Consequently, this can lead to innovative solutions and a more cohesive team that is better equipped to achieve your lean goals.

Empower Your Team

Empowering your team is a key aspect of lean leadership. So, you need to give your team the tools and resources they need to identify and solve problems on their own. This means creating a culture of continuous improvement, where everyone is encouraged to contribute ideas and suggestions for improvement.

Lean leadership is all about commitment; commitment to your employees, commitment to the system and commitment to making changes towards improvement. The highest commitment in Lean Leadership has to be towards your employees; your people. In any company, the people working for it are it’s greatest asset. You need to listen to your people and ensure they have the right tools and knowledge to perform their jobs correctly. Lean leadership focuses more on working with your people rather than having your people work for you.

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