The 5 Levels of Leadership

April 5, 2012

Did you take that promotion due to the title or are you truly ready to lead?  How would you rate yourself as a leader?  How do others view your leadership styles.  Below are the five levels of leadership.

 Level 1 – Position

People at Level 1 follow because they have to.  You are leading with your position or title and with no other influence.  This level is usually associated with low employee morale, and high turnover.  Imagine working on the production floor and being told what to do day after day.  No thinking, no feedback, no input.  Just do what you are told right or wrong.

 Level 2 – Permission

People at Level 2 follow because they want to follow.  At this level of leadership, you are building relationships with people, as well as treating them with dignity and respect.  Building relationships with people, leads to building trust within the relationship.  Once you have established a level of trust, people follow you because it’s fun, although there may be no results or achievements at this level of the organization.

 Level 3 – Production

People at Level 3 will follow you because they trust you and they trust the direction you are leading them in to achieve results for the organization.  Results start to happen due to the momentum of the people, resulting in very little effort required. 

 Level 4 – People Development

People at Level 4 follow you because of what you have done for them.  You value people, and spend more time mentoring and coaching people to reach new personal levels within themselves and for the organization.  People grow and develop at Level 4.  Future leaders are developed at this level and this leads to succession planning.

 Level 5 – Personhood

People at Level 5 follow you because they admire your principles and ethics.  Personally, you cannot put yourself at a Level 5.  Only others that see you as a great leader and someone who is capable of leading can place you at this level of leadership.

 What level of leadership are you at?


Leading From The Middle Of The Organization

April 3, 2012

Many great organizations have great leaders at the top of the organization in roles such as the CEO, COO, CFO and President.  Although these men and women are the face of the organization, the reality is that 99 percent of all leadership takes place in the middle of an organization.  The question that I keep hearing from my many years of experience in various leadership roles is this, “Can I still lead if I am in the middle of the organizational hierarchy.  The answer is, ‘Yes’.  I have seen many examples where leadership has come from the shop floor from people that want to contribute and get things done.

 Good leaders learn to lead from whatever level in the organization they are at.  They learn to lead up, down and across.  They become 360o Leaders.  These leaders learn to influence people at every level of the organization.  During my many years of experience in manufacturing operations roles, I was always on the lookout for these types of people.  People that can influence others in the organization (no matter what level they are at), are the hidden gems in any organization.  These are the people that make things happen, and can be good additions to any succession planning strategy.


Seiketsu (aka. Standardize)

May 14, 2010

I was in an organization last week talking to an Operations Manager about the productivity of the work force in the facility.  The Operations Manager told me that his location was one of the poorer performing locations with respect to labour utilization.  After touring the shop floor, I could not stop thinking of how productive the shop floor could be if it had a 5S program in place.  Any company wanting to implement a lean manufacturing program needs to start with 5S as its foundation.

The fourth principle of 5S  is “Seiketsu (aka. Standardize)”.  A perfect way to explain this principle of standardization is to picture yourself  on trip to your local Home Depot.  When we walk into Home Depot, every department is identified through an effective visual factory program.  Each aisle, each department, each checkout is clearly identified.  The signs look the same (standardization).  Now imagine walking into any Home Depot store.  They look exactly the same.  You expect this standardization when shopping at a hardware store, grocery store, fast food restaurant, etc.  It should be no different in our workplace. 

Once the workplace has been sorted, simplified and scrubbed clean, standardization needs to happen to ensure consistency in the work place among the different workers on the same shift and among the other shifts.  Standardization ensures that variation is minimized.  Minimized process variation ensures good quality throughout the process with minimal defects.  Once these standards are in place within a production line, they can be deployed to other production lines among different shifts. 

Seiketsu also means keeping one’s person clean, by such means as wearing proper working clothes, safety glasses, gloves and shoes, as well as maintaining a clean, healthy, working environment.  Another interpretation of “seiketsu” is continuing to work on the first three of the 5S’,seiri, seiton,  and seiso continually and every day.  As I mentioned before, 5S is not and cannot be a one time event.  It cannot be a blitz.  Blitzes are short-term and last no more than a few days, before the workplace goes back to the way it looked before.  Blitzes are performed when a VIP or a customer visits for a one time event.  Seiketsu or Standardization means that the workplace is kept clean and tidy on a continuous basis, and ready for any VIP or customer to visit without any advanced notice.


Seiso (aka. Scrub)

April 30, 2010

I visited a manufacturing facility today.  Everything I have talked about in my previous blogs regarding the need for 5S to improve productivity could not be further from the truth.  During my walk around the shop floor with the management, I commented on the need to for better housekeeping.  More importantly, the need for 5S.  One of the questions I asked the owner was “How much time do your employees spend looking for things throughout the day?”  The owner did not realize that the time spent searching for items was unproductive to his productivity and that it was costing him gains on his profit margins.

The third of the 5S’ is Seiso (aka. Scrub).  Once we have sorted and set-in order items we use in the workplace, the next step is to clean the workplace.  Now most people think that scrubbing means painting and forgetting about it.  But the real purpose of scrubbing is to make the equipment or item to look like new.  Equipment that is clean runs better and lasts longer between breakdowns.  Equipment that is clean and made to look like new makes it easier to identify when something goes wrong.  If an oil leak, water leak, air leak, etc. occurs, it makes it that much more easier to spot the issue.  Imagine a 1200T press covered in oil because it has never been cleaned.  When an oil leak on that press occurs, how will the operator be able to identify the oil leak?  My personal preference is to have equipment painted white, including floors (where it’s possible).  This makes it easy for the employees to identify issue with the equipment.  Oil leaks on a white floor also makes it easier to identify potential equipment issues.  As with each of the 5s’, Seiso must be maintained every day and every shift.


Seiton (aka. Straighten)

April 27, 2010

I took a time out this past week to actually look at my office space and the clutter surrounding it.  My last blog on “Sorting” convinced me that I needed to walk the talk before I continued talking about the remaining elements of 5S.  De-cluttering and trashing items that I definitely did not need has resulted in a much more organized space for me to work.  Now on with the 2nd step of 5S.

Once we have sorted what is needed in our work space, we are left with the tools that we need to perform our work on a continuous basis.  The trick with Seiton is that the items that we need to perform our daily tasks must be close by, and preferably within arm’s reach.  Having to walk or take extra steps to reach a tool or item is still considered waste, even though the item is easily found and in an organized manner.  This minimizes search times and efforts, resulting in increased productivity.

You’ve heard the old saying, “a place for everything, and everything in its place”.  If you follow this phrase and take it to heart, it will help you organize and label the tools or items required at the workstation.  Each items must have;

  1. a designated address (location)
  2. a designated name
  3. a designated quantity

I recently worked in a press shop where the changeover times were almost 2 hours long.  Breaking down the job, we found that the forklift drivers spent close to 40 minutes searching for the tool required to go into the press for the next run.  The operators sat idle while this search was going on.  Think of all the parts that could have been produced in those 40 minutes if the tool could be easily found.  We ended up labelling shelves for the tools with identifiers (e.g. A-1, A-2…….A-n, B-1, B-2…….Bn, etc.).  We even labelled the tools that sat on these shelves with identifiers that showed which shelf the  tool belonged to, and the press the tool always ran in.  We went one step further identifying how many strokes per minute (SPM) each tool should be set at.  This minimized the searching time for the fork lift driver getting the tool, and the setup time for the operators at the press.

The same can be done for raw material, purchased components, work-in-process, and finished goods.  Having a dedicated home location on the floor for every part number minimizes searching time and creates a more organized workplace.  Going one step further by identifying the maximum quantity allowed in each work space restricts the amount of clutter allowed to gather in that home location.  It is also a prerequisite for laying the foundation for a pull system (kanban system).

Look around your workspace and see how it can best be organized with a home location.


Leadership Strategies for Motivating Employees

April 5, 2010
  1. Focus on people, not numbers.  An organization’s failure or success is determined by the moods, innovation, energy, thoughts, and behaviors of the people who work there.
  2. Model good behavior.  Leaders set the tone for how employees respond to almost every situation.  They can inspire or they can extinguish.
  3. Practice positive leadership.  Positive leadership means remaining purposeful in the face of adversity.
  4. Fill the void.  As a leader, you must meet with your employees and continually communicate, communicate, communicate.
  5. Tell energy vampires, “Its time to get on the bus of off the bus”.  No matter how many pep talks you give or good behaviors you model, your efforts won’t go far unless you are on the same page.
  6. Forbid complaining………all complaining.  Let your employees know that they are not allowed to complain unless they offer solutions.
  7. Teach your people to be heroes, not victims.  Both heroes and victims get knocked down.  The distinction between the two groups lies in the fact that heroes get back up while victims give up.
  8. Focus on the small wins.  Always place your attention on those little, ordinary, unspectacular “wins” that add up to big successes.
  9. Make sure you have sharks in your key positions.  Look at your team and figure out which people display the characteristics of driven, go-get-’em, nice sharks.  Sharks choose to swim ahead, believing that the best is yet to come. 

Seiri (aka. Sort)

March 28, 2010

There is a new show on TV last week that I watched called “Hoarders”.  For those of you that have not seen it, just imagine people living in their homes and not being able to throw anything away.  We’re not talking about a few things here, but mounds and mounds of obsolete items that have not been used for weeks, months, or even years (food included).  It is so bad that they cannot walk from one end of their living room to the other.  Would you believe that there is a percentage of the American population that lives this way.  I can think of no better example to illustrate the first step of 5S, which is Seiri (aka. Sort)

Although not as extreme, we operate every day like this in our workplace also.  We fail to ask ourselves the question of whether an item is necessary or unnecessary.  All sorts of items are found in the workplace that we no longer use or that we will only use in the distant future.  In the workplace, we find unused machines, jigs, tools, dies, rejected parts, WIP, raw material, supplies, parts, shelves, containers, desks, workbenches, files of documents, carts, racks, pallets, and many other items.  A rule of thumb to use is to discard anything that has not been used for 30 days or more.

Red tagging is a way of deciding what is necessary and what is not necessary.  Going through the workplace with a Kaizen or a 5S team, red tags  are placed items believed to be unnecessary.  By the end of the excercise you may find that the entire area is covered in red tags.   A red tag area may be formed to move these tagged items into designated area for further review on whether the items should be refurbished, reallocated, sold, simply discarded. 

Questions that often arise after a red tag exercise are;

  1. “How much money is tied up in the red tag area?”
  2. “What was the original reason we bought this equipment, or fabricated this tool if it is not being used anymore?”. 
  3. “Why did we make these parts in the first place?” 

Management should get together after such an event to have a good look at the red tag items and start making kaizens to correct the system that made the wast possible.  This is an excellent excercise if you are trying to free up plant floor space.  The next step is determine what is the correct amount of items needed at the work place, or the gemba.  We will talk about this in Seiton (Straighten).