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Lean Leadership – Start with you

In the last couple of weeks I have had the privilege of introducing a whole lot of new people to the ideas and benefits of lean thinking.

Many are inspired by the philosophy and the stories of success and are really keen to experience the benefits themselves.

Often, the first question they ask is ‘how can I get others to do lean?’

This is an understandable question, especially from business leaders and owners, who deeply care about the success of their business and want to move forwards. The solution often seems simple but unattainable. If only they could get their team members to improve processes, have higher standards and so on.

My response to this question is sympathetic but firm. Start with you.

Leaders set the tone and the culture of a business. If you come to work every day and the first thing you do is obviously work on improvement, or tidy your work area or come up with a way to make other people’s lives easy, your team will notice. If you make improvement a top priority at every meeting, or even make sure that there are meetings to talk about improvement, people will notice. Over time, your team will either start to copy your behaviour or at least jump on board when given the opportunity to.

Lean leadership is not about pushing people through the door. It’s about opening the door yourself, stepping through and inviting others to join you.

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