It’s time to stop managing and start leading lean.

Lean is focused on providing maximum value to the customer in the most efficient way possible. The best lean leaders don’t just ‘manage’ – they lead! They lead by example.

Lean thinking is about transforming the way you think and operate. Lean leaders are continuously asking “why?”

“Why do we do things this way and what would happen if we changed the process?”

In manufacturing, to achieve transformation, Lean Leadership is critical. Lean thinking is fundamentally transforming the way organizations operate.

The problem with continuous improvement is that it is difficult to sustain with traditional leadership tactics that rely heavily on centralized decision-making and micro-management. Having this in mind, it is fair to say that if you are not ready to make changes to your leadership way, you shouldn’t ask your team to change the way they work.

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. A new, transformative approach to working requires a transformation in leadership, as well. 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.

The lean leader should act more like a teacher than a manager. If you are determined to make the methodology work in your organization, you need to encourage your team to continuously improve both their hard and soft skills. To make the lean leadership model work, you have to put heavy emphasis on culture, paying special attention to elements of trust and transparency. As a guiding figure, you need to recognize that the team, who is directly involved in your product or service, can provide some of the best ideas for improvement. Be sure to encourage each person to share any ideas they might have.

This doesn’t mean that you should agree to every proposal they make. However, as a coach, you shouldn’t just turn down those that you don’t see fit. Instead, a true lean leader must ask clarifying questions which will either help them understand the idea better and allow them to reach your desired conclusion themselves.

Lean Leadership is the overarching guide that is key to supporting and sustaining all elements of Lean Management Systems.

Leader Standard Work checklists provides a repeatable, systematic way to get leaders at all levels to consistently focus attention on best practice process and the results they yield. Clear visual management systems should be used by every type of continuous improvement team to ensure that every process is (or is not) achieving its objectives. Every process improvement team should establish routine accountability habits to ensure they are responsible for demonstrating process improvement effort and results on a routine basis.

Part of Haldan Consulting’s offering is to perform lean assessments and provide clients with personalized and standardized lean leadership and management templates, for continuous improvement.

In conclusion, Lean leadership is necessary for making the most of the Lean methodology. It fulfils more of a coaching role than a managing one. The primary function of such a person is to raise new leaders and help their team embrace a culture of continuous improvement. A true lean leader is value-driven and puts the needs of the customer first.

If you want to become a lean leader:

  • Be open to experimentation
  • Don’t be afraid to give team members ownership of their tasks
  • Keep feedback loops open all the time
  • Provide your colleagues with the chance to see the big picture and how they fit into it

Contact Haldan Consulting to inquire about Lean Assessments and Standardized Lean Leadership and Management Templates.


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