Lean requires strong leadership and collaboration. The old dictator style of leadership is not Lean.  The Lean style of leadership involves the hands on work (non-delegation) of the leader standing side-by-side with the employees in a work environment where it is okay to fail.   As Charles Dickens said:  “Every failure teaches a man something, if he will learn.”  The “leader” who refuses to learn is not a leader. 

So, what qualities should a Lean leader have?  Outstanding listening and communication skills, the ability to learn from mistakes, and a willingness to empower employees to achieve their goals and obtain success are just a few.   Other qualities a leader should have are:

  • A Lean leader is trusted
  • A Lean leader is concerned and care about others
  • A Lean leader focuses on results and relationships with employees
  • A Lean leader is ethical
  •  A Lean leader does not hold employees back
  • A Lean leader keeps his ego in check; he is not a know-it-all
  • A Lean leader motivates every employee to take action and engage them with a compelling mission and vision
  • A Lean leader has the assertiveness to drive outcomes and the ability to overcome adversity and resistance
  • A Lean leader creates a culture of accountability
  • A Lean leader makes decisions that are based on productivity, not politics. 

Businesses with leaders who have the above qualities are more successful.They have recognized the value of Lean leadership.As a result, they have higher profitability, productivity, and quality (fewer defects); lower turnover; less absenteeism and shrinkage (i.e., theft); and fewer safety incidents.

What kind of leader are you? Are you a Lean leader?

Lori Siwik