© 2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
Chapter 4
Leadership is often seen as the holy grail of successful
management. Indeed, poor leadership has been identi-
fied as the reason for poor sustainability of Lean change,
as the top ten reasons for failure in Table 4.1 reveal.
These findings (Table4.1) are based on a review of the
major issues leading to poor sustainability across a range
of manufacturing and distribution organizations.
We have found that there is often some confusion
between management and leadership. Many people talk
about managing transformations rather than leading
change. This may sound like a subtle difference, but it
Table4.1 Top ten reasons for failure.
1. Lack of a clear executive vision.
2. Lack of an effective communication strategy.
3. Failure to create and communicate a real sense of urgency.
4. Poor consultation with stakeholders.
5. Lack of structured methodology and project management.
6. Failure to monitor and evaluate the outcome.
7. Failure to mobilize change champions.
8. Failure to engage employees.
9. Absence of a dedicated and fully resourced implementation team.
10. Lack of sympathetic and supportive Human Resources policies.
62 ◾  Staying Lean: Thriving, Not Just Surviving
© 2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
is an important one. Warren Bennis, in On Becoming a
Leader (2003), describes some of the differences he sees
between managers and leaders (Table4.2).
Think of some managers in your organization. Are they
leaders or managers? Leaders, in our view, foster change
and create an environment where change is the norm,
whereas managers stabilize the organization and ensure
that the changes are well implemented. In fact, both sets
of behavior are necessary to achieve excellence, and
different approaches may be needed at different times,
depending on where you are in the transformation. Also,
leadership is not confined to the top level of an organi-
zation; leaders can emerge at all levels, and part of the
role of managers is to recognize and develop potential
leaders so that they can contribute to the business goals.
Think about some of the other people in your organiza-
tion—trade union shop stewards, supervisors, influential
employees—how would you describe them?
Table4.2 Differences between leaders and managers.
Leader Manager
Is an original
Focuses on people
Inspires trust
Has a long-range perspective
Asks why
Has his eye on the horizon
Challenges the status quo
Is a copy
Focuses on systems and
Relies on control
Has a short-range view
Asks how and when
Has his eye on the bottom line
Accepts the status quo
Source: Bennis, On Becoming a Leader.
Leadership ◾  63
© 2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
Leadership is about establishing direction, developing
a vision of the future, and setting strategies for making
changes to achieve that vision. Leadership involves align-
ing people, communicating the direction by words and
deeds to the entire workforce to get the cooperation that
is needed. It is about influencing the creation of teams
that understand the vision and accept their roles in the
implementation of the strategy. It is really about inspiring
people to want to change.
My role has been to give the direction and perspec-
tive, to provide the means and resources, to support
the people and protect them from criticism, but they
have trained themselves in what was expected and
they have executed Lean. I am quite happy with
the way we implemented it. You can always say
it could have been better, but I think we did very
well. Anyway, sometimes you need failures to con-
vince people what could have been done.
—Marcel, Managing Director, Cogent Power Group
Level 5 Leadership
In Good to Great (1991), Jim Collins found that success is
due primarily to the abilities, competence, and style of the
leader. He identifies five levels of leadership (Figure4.1),
with the highest level leading to the most sustainable
and effective business.
Level 5 leaders channel their ego away from them-
selves and into the larger goal of building a great
company. Its not that Level 5 leaders have no ego or
self-interest. Indeed, they are incredibly ambitious—
but their ambition is first and foremost for the insti-
tution, not themselves. (p. 21)

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