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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: How a Toyota leader defines Lean Leadership!

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Thursday, April 2, 2015 - Save & Share - Leave a comment

I heard one of the better definitions of a lean leader from one of the Presidents of the Toyota Technical Center, Mr. Yamashina, and I published it in The Toyota Way:

Always keep the final target in mind
Clearly assign tasks to yourself and others
Think and speak based on verified, proven information and data
Take full advantage of the wisdom and experience of others to send, gather or discuss information
Always report, inform and consult in a timely manner
Analyze and understand shortcomings in your capabilities in a measurable way
Relentlessly strive to conduct kaizen activities
Think outside the box
Always be mindful of protecting the safety and health of yourself and others

This was his personal philosophy as he explained when he took over as president, but it also happens to be a great summary of The Toyota Way.

Now imagine people who are not leading this way. They go about each day reacting to issues as they occur, following daily routines when things are going well, giving orders, scrutinizing others, and expecting as long as results are positive they will continue to get promoted. They fit into the system and culture and do not rock the boat. Life feels comfortable and good to them.

The only way they will change to a goal-oriented, innovative, and self-critical thinker, who is regularly at the gemba adding value, is through a major change in outlook and daily routines. They need a mind and behavior change. We know that generally it is more effective to change behavior to change mind then the reverse. Something needs to shake them up and then they need a coach to show them a better way that they practice daily until new, more positive routines develop.

If nothing shakes them up, or they are shaken up but not guided through a way to develop new healthy routines, they will not become the kind of leader that Mr. Yamashina values. I think we know what needs to happen, and the question is: Will it happen with the leadership and culture of the organization?

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