You need to start leading in new ways... right now.
If we can agree that we are in a leadership deficit and that leadership is meant to cause dramatic and useful change in a global operating environment. We should then also agree that our approach to leadership should change in dramatic and useful ways.
For this to occur, a leader should possess some degree of these characteristics:
Traditionally, leadership has taken the form of direction from the top down where answers and solutions are seen as dictates (typically seen in statements like, “I know the answers, you don’t and I will give them to you as you need to know them”) and work is considered extrinsically motivating. Leaders are believed to be born with the skills (i.e., leadership skills cannot be taught), and if there is an absence of leadership, the herd (organization) is lost.
In essence, the organization is moving around like a herd of buffalo headed for a cliff. This form of leadership is most often typified with words like, mandate, drive, push, must, will and or-else. Allegorically, traditional leadership is similar to the “Plight of the Buffalo” (if one goes off the cliff, all will follow) however, Lean Leadership operates similar to a flock of geese changing leadership when the situation/need dictates. Further evidence is found in an old Chinese proverb that states, “If we do not change our direction we are likely to end up where we are headed..”
Good leaders motivate people in a variety of ways, three of which are the basis to our “LEAN” approach. First, leaders must define the organization’s vision in a way that highlights the values of their group; second, leaders must support people’s efforts to achieve the shared vision through coaching, feedback, and role modeling; and finally, a good leader will recognize and reward success.
In retrospect, a good leader will achieve the ideology that “work itself is intrinsically motivating.” For organizations to nurture and develop effective leaders there must be a corporate culture conducive to creating challenging opportunities for young employees. Some of the well-known companies that have used this approach successfully are Johnson & Johnson, 3M, Hewlett Packard, Proctor & Gamble and General Electric.
The true Lean leader is one who can detach themselves from the team to allow empowerment to flourish where the team provides itself with such services as peer reviews, rewards and even team recruitment. These leaders delegate responsibilities and coach others in ways that nurture their growth, bring out their best and inspire support for the organization’s goals.
The Lean leader possesses many of the skills and characteristics of the other models but is more strategic in his/her actions and words. In essence, the leader is distributing the leadership task (and responsibility) among a wide range of other potential leaders. In larger organizations this concept manifests itself in multiple teams of leadership talent to provide the overall direction. Another benefit is a relatively high commitment level from the team as their ownership of the issues and solutions will be institutionalized. This methodology is a powerful combatant for the problem of the “larger-than-life” leadership figurehead (The “larger-than-life” syndrome is where a charismatic leader is so revered and worshiped that proceeding without him/her would be considered disastrous).
There is a simple tool offered by www.LeanPowerTools.com to assist companies in understanding Lean Leadership which provides the critical tools, techniques and training to build your skill sets. The tool provides step by step guidance so that even the most novice of users can benefit. When combined, all these tenets of Lean Leadership provide the potential/incumbent leader with a platform of expertise in the promotion and protection of value (worth) for his/her organization.
For organizations to compete in the new digital millennium they will need superb leadership talent which can only come from a learning organization which promotes and supports a culture conducive to the attainment of shared visions and strategies, while creating value and maximizing customer satisfaction.