Managers Must Lead the Transformation

Sure, you may have a title. That is associated with some authority and commands respect. But how does that relate to your role in assuring successful transformation to a LEAN working culture? What is expected of you?

Kotter, a voice of the Western management style, would say "Leadership is the development of vision and strategies, the alignment of relevant people behind those strategies, and the empowerment of individuals to make the vision happen, despite obstacles. This stands in contrast with management, which involves keeping the current system operating through planning, budgeting, organizing, staffing, controlling, and problem solving."

Both roles are very important to business success and we often wear both hats.

But Deming would call us to a different understanding for business success in the LEAN culture, notably his principle #7- Adopt and Institute Leadership. By leadership he means that "The job of management is not supervision, but leadership. Management must work on sources of improvement, the intent of quality of product and of service, and on the translation of the intent into design and actual product."

In other words, if your primary focus is not overseeing the continuous development of a better system of work in which employees can be more effective in achieving the goals that you have assigned them, then you're not doing the job.

To quote Deming again, "The required transformation of Western style of management requires that managers be leaders."

refs: On What Leaders Really Do, John P. Kotter and Out of the Crisis, W. Edwards Deming