Where Will We Find Lean Leaders?

            I’m not a CEO, or even a plant manager. But if I were, I’d sure be worried about finding good leaders for my company.

            I say that because, according to the recent Productivity Survey from TBM Consulting Group (which I also wrote about in my last post), that’s what manufacturing executives are worried about.

            The survey found that more than a third (34 percent) of the 2,288 executives surveyed in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, Mexico and Brazil identified “leadership qualities” as the greatest shortcoming in the workforce. Another 32 percent cited “innovative thinking” as the most significant area of weakness – and of course, innovative thinking should be one of the qualities of a good leader.

            In addition, 15 percent cited “lack of leadership” as the greatest barrier to productivity improvement, the second most-mentioned factor. The first was “resistance to change,” mentioned by 31 percent. (And how do you overcome resistance to change? Does the term “leadership” come to mind?)

            More than one-third also said that the shortage of skilled workers and “people” issues were most likely to “make them lose sleep at night.” Only 17 percent said their insomnia would come from rising energy costs. (The survey was conducted in the first half of this year.)

            “The study suggests that the dwindling supply of qualified workers continues to be a big hurdle for manufacturers in highly industrialized countries, and given the extreme challenges of today’s ‘flat earth’ economy, it’s now a major concern for the industry,” Mike Serena, managing director of TBM LeanSigma Institute, said in a news release. “The gap in leadership skills has global manufacturers wondering how to sustain growth.”

            It’s ironic, at least in the United States, that after eliminating literally millions of manufacturing jobs, we can’t find skilled leaders. Where did they all go? Or were the people who used to be in leadership positions never properly trained to begin with?

            The more pressing question is where tomorrow’s leaders will come from. The answer involves training, collaboration between industry and our schools and colleges, and outreach to attract more people into educational programs and jobs.

            To those of you who confront these issues on a daily basis, I ask, how bad is it? What are the challenges you face, and how are you coping with them? Your comments are always welcome.


1 comment:

Ralph Bernstein said...

10/12/2006 12:50:13 PM
Re: Where Will We Find Lean Leaders?
By: LeanThink

As we try to establish lean at our company, we struggle with the same issue. We need leaders who not only grasp lean ideas, but push these in a positive and enthusiastic way with the people they manage. It requires constant communication on the part of managers by spending time each day with those who work for them making sure standardized work and best practices are followed on a daily basis.

What if the manager is not up to the task? Then it's time to re-think that position. Perhaps it calls for a more experienced, motivated individual who can bring about the desired results. You can return the manager to a position he/she is more suited to; you may have to soothe some ruffled feathers, but in the end the struggling manager will probably be relieved.

Who knows? They may even learn from the new boss and get another crack at the number one spot somewhere down the road.

Rotor Clip Company