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Bill Gaw's Top 12
Lean Manufacturing
Articles

Leadership

Leadership seeks to integrate the best of both worlds. On the one hand, there is the productivity rhetoric: bottom line, profits, cost, etc. There is a better or preferred way to run a business. Measurement is all important and the results are what count in the final analysis. This is the conservative approach used by the accountant types. The structure and the function of the enterprise must be acted upon and controlled in order to achieve corporate goals and departmental objectives. Management must direct the operation focusing on materials, schedules, deliveries, machinery, facilities and orders. On the other hand, there are those that acclaim the value of loyalty, trust, openness, honesty, commitment, collaboration and fairness. People must be treated uniformly and consistently making allow­ances for individual differences and extenuating circum­stances. Sounds like magic. Well, it is. But it is the key to successful employee relations. This is the liberal ap­proach advocated by the behaviorists, psychologists and Human Resource types.

Both approaches must be balanced. The irony is that creating a workplace environment in which all feel treated fairly, a climate in which trust and openness abound, a culture of commitment and feelings of ownership, the best bottom line results. This notion is elevated to the level of a paradox only for those who have not yet shifted para­digms from the traditional world view. Loyalty and com­mitment are to be valued even when some members do not buy into the way things are.

Leadership must not be confused with ruling with an iron hand, using incentives and rewards to control behaviors. Leadership is not managing to maximize the annual execu­tive bonus. The entire enterprise must be integrated into the reward system. Investments must be made in the entire business to generate return to the bottom line.

In the integrated enterprise, we must look beyond the traditional boundaries of operational leadership, beyond the shop floor to the board rooms where the decisions are made as to how the business is run. The enterprise encompasses not only manufacturing concerns but also systemic issues; not only tactical concerns but also strate­gic issues; not only operations but how the big picture; not just management and supervisory skills but leadership.

Systems thinking looks at the living system as a whole instead of breaking it down into basic building blocks; it concentrates on principles of organization and interdependence. When you look at an object or event as something separate, you will not see its true nature. You must strive to see it as a member of a larger living system. This web of relationships is the heart of the enterprise and the focus of leadership.

Where and who are the models for leadership? Who are the heroes and examples for today's executives to follow? We are looking for the leader's leader.

Labor relations is directly opposed to this notion of a benevolent dictatorship. The real tyranny, however, is when you have to treat everyone exactly the same regard­less and without exception. This means everyone is re­duced to the lowest common denominator. All get the worst of all possible worlds.

Management must control information, materials, sched­ules, products and processes. People must be led. The role of management is to set policy that establishes and sus­tains leadership, "conduct long-term planning, pursue bold new innovations that generate order of magnitude in­creases in quality and profitability, and lead through coaching and teaching.... Most managers have never been trained to manage the correct way. They don't know how to be a leader rather than a jailer."1 In the American Samurai, William Lareau asserts that since the traditional system does not teach useful management skills the first challenge of an aspiring, transformed manager is to stop doing almost everything that he or she has been doing in the past. By teaching and coaching employees to control their processes and satisfy customers at every step, managers free up time and resources to devote to the essential functions of leadership, i.e., thinking, learning, planning, following up, teaching, coaching, cheerleading and setting examples by involving all employees in the transformation of the organization. All managers are human resource managers. And human resource managers must be lead­ers. Dwight David Eisenhower recognized that leaders get people to do something because they want to do it; they're committed and have ownership of their actions. The leader sets a vision and paints the picture in detail for all to see. The leader communicates not only the big picture but also the details of the future desired state. The leader utilizes the diversity present in order to optimize performance and results. The leader is able to align divergent personal and organizational goals in a common direction. To be a good leader one must be a good follower. The role of leader as servant fulfills the mission of management to support operations by providing the resources and conditions nec­essary for workers and work groups to achieve their objectives. Yes, leaders are servants to the organization. A leader must determine whether his or her presence en­riches or diminishes the quality of life and working condi­tions of those whom they influence. For "the only way to change an organization (or just make it go) is to produce people, enough people, who will change it." The leader distin­guishes between the traditional management skills of plan­ning, organizing, directing, following up and reporting from the leadership skills of delegating, coordinating, recognizing, facilitating and motivating. The latter are the skills champi­oned by the leader in the Integrated Enterprise.

To be Continued


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