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Sunday, September 01 2019

Organizations are Over Managed and Under Led


I take the position that there is, undoubtedly, a game-changing difference between managing and leading.   

Managing is necessary, let’s be clear on this point. Every organization has a need to hit critical metrics aligned with Profit and Loss, as well as Regulatory Compliance. This is a requirement for keeping the doors open and the lights on, so to speak.

When I talk about managing, I am talking about the tools we use in organizations to create stability and continuity in our processes. For example, if you are a manufacturer in the automotive industry, I am quite confident you use FMEA’s, Control Plans, Standard Work, etc., which are all tools designed around eliminating and reducing variation. You have a planned output, and you manage your inputs to create a “system” of control. You run periodic tests, such as a Gauge R&R, and you conduct compliance audits and internal audits, looking for weaknesses and validating controls.

Now, let’s say you are unfortunate enough to get a Quality concern, such as a customer rejecting your material. You utilize your systems to contain and correct the problem. You go through your lot tracing and containment methods to ensure you have all “suspect” product captured and contained. Then you go through some kind of Root Cause Analysis, identifying counter-measures for the root cause, validating effectiveness of the counter-measures, and cascading the lessons learned across the organization. You work your system and you work it very well.   

Additionally, your efforts have also now improved the system. The world is great again, right!?

Then, a funny thing happens: we get the same quality issue again. Sound familiar?

We run the system again; and in six months, we have to run it again and again. I’ve seen this process repeat itself over and over.

If you live in a loop like this, you have to realize something critical--these systems, independently, are not enough. Why not?

Folks, systems are a mile wide but only an inch deep. Our systems canvas our entire operation, but do they truly touch our people in a meaningful way? Each individual employee may only be an “inch wide” in the scheme of the “system” but they are a “mile deep!”

The problem is leadership. Systems are not intended to overcome poor leadership. When there is poor leadership, there will also be people problems. You’ll recognize if you have people problems in a variety of ways; easy ones to see are attendance, turnover, non-compliance to standard work, housekeeping, and non-compliance to PPE requirements. They jump right out at you.

So, what defines a great leader? A great leader gets the willing participation of others to follow a vision.

Managing, on its own, may help you achieve some stability, but it usually ceilings out around mediocrity. You need to combine it with being a great leader to reach break through, world class results.

Businesses are managed but people are led. Becoming a leader means you connect with people in a transformative way, with clear vision and values that resonate with your team. In our Leadership Skills for Success series, you’ll learn how to be an effective communicator and listener, become a leader vs a manager, build self confidence and trust, team building, leading and coaching for superior performance, and much more!

How to become this type of a leader is well beyond the scope of this brief article; however, it is within the scope of our Leadership Skills for Success series.

Leadership Skills for Success Topics:

  • Effective communication and listening
    • Email and social media etiquette
    • Basic PowerPoint skills
    • Becoming a leader
    • Managing stress
    • Project management
    • Building self-confidence and trust
    • Team building in manufacturing
    • Leading and coaching for superior performance
    • Leadership through change
    • Productive conflict resolution
    • Problem solving using PDCA, A3, and root cause analysis

*Each student in the series incorporates a project on behalf of their organization into the training. This allows each student to learn and apply, with direct relevance to their sponsoring organization. 

Learn more about our Leadership Skills for Success series.

Writer: Jeremiah Sinks, 317-275-6810,

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