Category Archives: Leadership

Clear-Headed Leadership in Tough Times

U.S. ArmyTough times provide great opportunities to test your team to see who is ready to be part of the solution.

  • Communicate like crazy, being humble but firm with clear targets for getting through this period.
  • Delegate various pieces to your team and hold each accountable for finding creative solutions to turn dead/slow/surplus assets into cash and eliminate waste.
  • Ask for volunteers to scale back weekly hours or take short-term leaves. You might be surprised at the number who’d love to take some time for a special project, hobby or trip, if it’s viewed as beneficial to the company and doesn’t jeopardize their position!
  • Necessity  can help to leapfrog your company past many of the long-standing bad habits, territorialism, and entitlement problems that may have frustrated you for years. If you clearly need to re-size your staff and capacity, this is an ideal time to “raise the bar” with respect to span-of-control, performance pay, cross-training, team behavior, quality, maintenance and housekeeping, so that “going forward” your workforce is more committed and aligned to desired practices for the future.

Photo Credit: U.S. Army

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Thoughts on Leadership

George BushHow can you become a strong leader who inspires others, drives people toward excellence, holds people accountable, and instills a sense of trust? Learning what makes a great leader is your first step.

Here are some things you can do to become the leader you’ve always wanted to be:

Control yourself. Every great leader in history has had to become a master of self-discipline and willpower in order to stay focused on the big picture. If you don’t have a goal or the drive to achieve it, you can’t lead others to attain theirs.

  • Follow through in everything you do. As challenging as it may be, you need to be disciplined enough to be where you need to be, when you need to be there, whether you want to or not. By being strong in your resolve and resisting temptation to give up, you are setting an example for others to live up to.
  • Choose your emotional response to a situation carefully. Sometimes you’ll need to practice the art of silencing your inner thoughts when they’re not appropriate in order to set a positive example.

Communicate your goals. If the people you’re leading don’t completely understand the deeper meaning in their work, they won’t share your vision or work ethic. Every step of the way, communicate with your team to make sure they’re on the same wavelength and know what you expect of them. Get your team involved in the planning process and the implementation of your ideas. This gives everyone a greater sense of ownership toward the end result.

Praise highly and criticize constructively. The way you praise and criticize others can make all the difference in being able to lead effectively.

  • Make sure you publicly praise the people who do excellent work for you. You’ll give the person a sense of accomplishment and the drive to do even better.
  • When someone does something wrong, offer constructive criticism and do it privately. Suggest solutions on how they can improve and take the time to answer any questions. They’ll accept your input more willingly if they know it’s done to help and not to harm.

Know your people. You can’t truly lead a group of people unless you truly understand their hopes, dreams, struggles, pains, and goals. All the good intentions in the world mean nothing unless you have a true sense of the people you’re working with.

  • Talk to your team and get to know them. Getting to know each other on a personal level will strengthen the bond between you. They’ll want to do better for you because you’re more than just a “boss.”
  • Be their leader, first, and their friend second. You’re their leader and that means that you have to make difficult decisions from time to time. These decisions cannot be affected by personal relationships.

Make the hard call. There are times when you have to bite the bullet and make some unpleasant decisions. Firing, demoting, and holding people accountable for their actions can be very hard at times. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to handle these matters.

Regardless of where your leadership role takes you, believe that you can be a strong leader. Remember that in order to lead others, you must be disciplined yourself. After all, your actions will speak louder than anything you can say.

In order to gain the respect of others, strive to lead by example in every area of your life.

When you follow these simple guidelines, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a true leader!

Photo Credit: U.S. Army

An Overview of Lean Enterprise Thinking

So, just what is “lean” and why is it relevant for us? If we’re already the most expert roofer, plumber, physician, or architect in our area, isn’t “lean” just more consulting mumbo jumbo? No! In fact, “lean enterprise” is a winning banner under which several supporting methods have been developed to drive superior performance and healthy long-term organizational development. This encompasses product development, supply chain management, project management, operations management, physical layout and housekeeping, equipment maintenance, capacity planning, processing of daily orders, employee training and motivation, and many other areas relevant to most companies.

Lean is extremely hands-on, straight-forward, visual and participative in its elements; attributes which commend it in nearly all types of businesses. Better yet, it doesn’t involve highly mysterious and expensive “black-box” systems. Lean principles apply to all businesses that have regular activities, process and workflows.

How can one system be so universal in its application?
Let’s look at a few key aspects of a lean enterprise. In many ways, lean thinking can be summed up as follows:

1) Time-Based Management: eliminating friction and waste to achieve fast, efficient, uninterrupted “flow” of products and services to customers. This contrasts with traditional “departmentalized” structures, which feature lots of “hand-off s,” poor coordination and communication (and, therefore, waste) and considerable waiting time between steps.

2) Team Discipline: using a “pull system” which responds, real-time, to customer demand by cascading back through preceding company operations with frequent/small replenishment orders (also applies to new product development). This contrasts with the traditional “push system” of scheduled “batch” activity according to imperfect forecasts.

3) Lifelong Learning: constantly seeking excellence and continuous improvement in all aspects required to pursue “perfection” in executing steps (1) and (2). This requires an overall vision and operating model to provide the framework for continual improvement and learning by all team members.

Sounds simple, right? This certainly doesn’t seem like something a “world class” company like Toyota would need to view as a never-ending, top priority pursuit. They’ve already devoted 60 years to “lean” and made incredible progress on becoming the world’s leading and best-managed car company. But, after all of this intense long-term focus, Toyota still views themselves as less than 25% of the way along their lean journey toward “perfect” execution according to their current understanding!

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What Will It Take For Us To Survive In Today’s Economy

Clear-Headed Leadership in Tough Times – Tough times provide great opportunities to test your team to see who is ready to be part of the solution.

Communicate like crazy, being humble but firm with clear targets for getting through the upcoming period.

Delegate various people to your team and hold each accountable for finding creative solutions to turn dead/slow/surplus assets into cash and eliminate waste.

Ask for volunteers to scale back weekly hours or take short-term leaves. You might be surprised at the number who’d love to take some time for a special project, hobby or trip, if it’s viewed as beneficial to the company and doesn’t jeopardize their position!

Finally, “necessity” can help to leapfrog your company past many of the long-standing bad habits, territorialism, and entitlement problems that may have frustrated you for years. If you clearly need to re-size your staff and capacity, this is an ideal time to “raise the bar” with respect to span-of-control, performance pay, cross-training, team behavior, quality, maintenance and housekeeping, so that “going forward” your workforce is more committed and aligned to desired practices for the future.