What makes an inspirational Lean leader? | EEF

What makes an inspirational Lean leader?

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Maintaining and sustaining Lean requires commitment, passion, determination and leadership. Being able to bring others along with you can be the greatest Lean challenge. What makes an inspirational Lean leader?


Leadership is one of the hottest and most written about management topics of today.  We all want to be great leaders.  We strive to inspire and motivate the people around us.  We invest our time and energy in emulating great leaders and are inspired by their words and actions. 

When it comes to Lean, leadership is essential.  With processes to evolve, teams and colleagues to engage, failures to endure and successes to celebrate, leadership is an imperative. 

If you want to know what makes a good leader, then there are hundreds of articles on LinkedIn alone that will give you guidance.  In the context of Lean however, there are a few key areas that you can focus on to deliver real benefits.

Be part of the business

"We know that leadership is very much related to change. As the pace of change accelerates, there is naturally a greater need for effective leadership." - John Kotter

Lean for Lean’s sake doesn’t deliver change. For Lean to be effective, it has to be part of the business.  That means making sure that you, as the Lean implementer or champion, are completely aware of the business strategy, goals, aims and ambitions.  Are you completely up-to-speed with the company’s other strategies, for example marketing and engineering? Are your changes going to support or clash with those? 

Be part of the team

"Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity." - George Patton

No man, as they say is an island and you can’t know every aspect of task that takes place across your business.  Pretending to will only serve to isolate the people who you are trying to engage.  Implementing and sustaining Lean requires engagement, good people and a strong leader so remain part of the team and build a team around you who are as passionate as you. 

Share the success

"It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership." - Nelson Mandela

Success through Lean comes in many forms.  Reduced waste, greater profits, happier colleagues.  All can be regarded as successes and all are achieved through great leadership.  The important thing is to ensure that you share the success, and put the team and the business before yourself.  The people who need to know that you delivered the change, will know.  If your team understands that they are integral in making Lean successful, you’ll achieve more than you ever imagined.

Get on your path to excellence 

"Leaders aren't born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that's the price we'll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal." - Vince Lombardi

EEF helps businesses to compete, innovate and grow providing advice and support on new product development, intellectual property protection and production process optimisation.  

EEF’s Lean Six Sigma Green Belt training course is designed to give leaders the skills, knowledge and tools they require to implement Lean working methods across their organisation and sustain its development and progress in the long term.  Based around real-world implementations of actual products, EEF’s Lean Six Sigma Green Belt course combines theory with practical and real life experience, making the subject highly relevant to each delegate’s specific business.

If you are already familiar with the concepts of Six Sigma and would like to deepen your knowledge of how to apply them effectively by leading complex process improvements projects, the blended approach of the Lean Six Sigma Black Belt training course can represent the best solution to achieve Lean leadership.

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