What Kind of Lean Leader are You?

Published on December 20, 2017

What Kind of Lean Leader are You?

To deliver Operational Excellence, one of the first things organizations should do is examine their leadership approach and identify how to change it to be more transformative. That’s what listeners of The OpEx Webinar episode 4 learned from Philip Holt, VP Finance, Continuous Improvement at Travelport.

During the broadcast, Holt led attendees in a discussion on his model of lean leadership, which includes four elements:

  1. Leadership Activism, which provides the essential elements of role modelling and leading by example. With leadership activism, leaders roll their sleeves up and are part of the team delivering the results instead of sitting in an office setting targets or delegating. That’s because these leaders understand they’re part of the success or failure of the organization.
  2. Visible Leadership, which ensures that employees see what the leader is doing and that he or she is sufficiently engaged. That means not just being seen but also being “in the dirt.” One of the key components of visible leadership is building trust with people. To do that, it means leadership can make mistakes and also that, when the process stops working, you check the process and not the people. When that happens, employees will realize that you check because you care.
  3. Coaching Leadership, which means a leader who coaches rather than gives directives in order to enable sustainable improvement. These leaders move from being an expert that “tells” to a leader that “asks”. Coaching leadership also means agreeing to what you’re going to do and expecting employees to deliver – and not micromanaging and taking over.
  4. Mosquito Leadership, which multiplies a leader’s impact beyond their span of control. These leaders infect other people with their ideas in a positive way. Mosquito leadership is about being more than you can be and doing more than you could possibly do in your normal role. That way, you’ll expand you’re sphere of influence.

While each of the styles has its own unique aspects and advantages, it’s the overlap between them that is critical. By sharing characteristics of all four, you’ll transform your lean leadership into an approach that effectively engages employees. Gaining engagement with employees is one of the biggest leadership challenges, but if you can solve it, you’ll realize a strategic advantage in terms of innovation, productivity, profit and more.

Learn more about Philip’s book Leading with Lean at www.leadingwithlean.com