Behaviors of a Lean Leader

Part of the Lean For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Lean leaders effectively exhibit the following behaviors every day. They know how the business serves the customer by

  • Understanding what customers want, need, and value, or what will thrill them

  • Knowing how the business satisfies the customer

  • Improving the effectiveness of how the business satisfies the customer

They build ability in the people through

  • Guiding problem solving — root cause, right problem, right resources

  • Leading from gemba; applying 3Gen

  • Asking open-ended, probing questions

They show a continuous improvement mindset by

  • Continually challenging the status quo

  • Knowing that there is always room for improvement

  • Understanding that the customer changes — what delights today is a necessity tomorrow

They focus on process and results by

  • Obtaining results

  • Ensuring that how the results are achieved is the most effective utilization of all resources, in the direction of the ideal state

  • Improving how the organization accomplishes results

They demonstrate an understanding of the value stream at a macro and micro level through

  • Knowing what the customer requires and how the value stream satisfies them

  • Having knowledge of the overall value stream, including tributaries

  • Asking questions when changes are made at the local level to ensure that the team understands how the change will impact the customer and the rest of the value stream

They create a culture to sustain improvement by

  • Identifying, modeling, and encouraging Lean behaviors

  • Finding the lessons in every “failure” — blame does not foster improvement or innovation

  • Respecting and improving standards — questions when the organization is deviating from the standard

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