Five Qualities of Successful Lean Leaders

Lean Leaders find success through understanding the relationships between lean tools, organizational leadership, and organizational culture. When they add their Lean skills into the mix, leaders and their organizations are able to implement standard work, recognize waste, improve coaching, understand flow and value, and ultimately, improve efficiency.

But what is it about successful Lean Leaders that make them so successful?

Ultimately, successful Lean Leaders share five essential qualities:

Knowledge of Work
Lean Leaders know how all of the processes and all of the work in the area where they have responsibility, inside and out, backward and forward. All of the elements in the work should be known by the lean supervisor.

Knowledge of Job Responsibilities
Lean Leaders understand, from a management perspective, what is expected of the role. They should know the company policies, work rules, union contracts if applicable. The supervisor should be skilled in what he needs to deliver from a management perspective.

Ability to Kaizen
Lean Leaders have a “good foundation” of basic kaizen skills, including such tools as 5S, practical problem-solving, and PDCA. Leaders should be comfortable with lean skills.

Ability to Lead
As the front-line employee’s first leader, Lean Leaders are the key people who set the culture of the company expectations.

Ability to Teach
This is possibly the most under-appreciated skill of a lean supervisor. Most supervisors are expected to enforce; Lean Leaders rely on the ability to teach. Having, or developing such skills, is key to creating a team environment to pursue continuous-improvement objectives.

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