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Developing Effective Leadership Within Your Organization

Developing Effective Leadership Within Your Organization

Written by Cherie McLaughlin.  She be reached at:  

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit her website at www.couchbasedbiz.com

Your organization is only as strong as its leaders. So why does your company keep hiring leaders rather than developing them from within? While external leadership hires can be the right choice in some situations, like when your business needs a fresh perspective, most companies find they get better results when they make leaders, not hire them.

What Makes Effective Leaders?

Effective leaders know how to get things done. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re do-ers. Rather, effective leaders possess a set of soft skills that make them natural managers, decisive problem-solvers, and excellent communicators. When companies put the right person in a leadership role, people naturally gravitate toward them and want to work together toward their vision.

Unfortunately, these are exactly the kinds of traits that are hard to quantify in an interview. Perhaps that’s the reason management hires fall short 82% of the time, according to Gallup.

Instead of playing roulette with leadership hires, organizations should develop leaders from within.

Good Leadership Matters at Every Level

Innate ability matters in leadership, but it’s not everything. While one in 10 people possess the natural talent to manage, another two in 10 have the ability to excel in leadership roles when given the right support.

When companies develop internal leaders, they have the opportunity to identify those employees and mold them into future leaders. By starting leadership development early, companies not only cultivate well-rounded leaders, but they also ensure that employees have strong management at every level of the business.

When companies have good leadership at every level, they also benefit from:

Remember that your best leaders aren’t necessarily your highest performers. As the Harvard Business Review explains, “The performance level of individual contributors is measured largely through their ability, likability, and drive. Leadership, by contrast, demands a broader range of character traits.”

Qualities to Look for in Leadership Hires

Whether you’re promoting from within or making an external hire, there are certain qualities a leadership hire needs to have:


There’s no question that charisma is important for leaders. Without charisma, leaders struggle to get teams behind them. However, charisma without authenticity is just as bad — if not worse. Authentic leaders make people want to follow them, whereas a lack of authenticity sows distrust.

Decision-making ability

Strong leaders know how to take action despite risks. That’s not to say they rush into situations blind. Rather, good leaders know how to make the most of the information they have without getting paralyzed by analysis.

Communication skills

69% of managers feel uncomfortable communicating with employees, according to research. That’s unacceptable in a role where communicating goals and directions is a primary responsibility. Strong leaders should have emotional intelligence and cultural competency in addition to basic communication skills.

A sense of service

Good leaders aren’t driven by personal accomplishment. Rather, they’re invested in the success of their team as a whole.

Developing Leaders in Your Organization

Here’s how your organization can commit to developing leaders from within.

  • Identify prospective leaders early. Cultivating leadership at lower levels builds a strong business from the ground up.
  • Invest in leadership training. The soft skills that make good leaders are the hardest to train for, but they’re also the most important. In manufacturing, customized continuous improvement training programs and coaching can help leaders make positive process improvements. For other industries, existing leadership may consider encouraging and incentivizing employees to seek higher education in fields such as business administration at online universities.
  • Create mentorship relationships. Pair employees with existing leaders within your organization to help them develop the skills needed to move into leadership roles.
  • Be the leader you want to see. Company culture starts at the top. In order to cultivate great leaders, executive leadership needs to display the leadership behaviors they want from others.

The best leaders are made, not hired. Instead of looking outside to solve your company’s leadership gaps, focus on cultivating leadership skills from within. Not only will you improve leadership at the top of your organization, but by developing leadership from the bottom-up, you’ll strengthen your organization at every level.

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Office Lean Tips Part I - Effective Meetings

                               10 Simple Rules for Holding Lean Meetings


Try these tips to make your meetings more effective:

Rule 1 Is this meeting really necessary?
Avoid the meeting that could have been an email.  Limit update meetings - there are better ways to keep people informed, like using quad charts.

Read more: Office Lean Tips Part I - Effective Meetings

Transactional Office Lean

Transactional Office Lean Process Improvement

Transactional processes are an integral part of every business – manufacturing, sales, service, medical. They are everywhere around us. So why would they not be a major part of any Continuous Improvement program?

By definition, a process is a collection of activities with an output of value to a customer, whether internal or external. In the manufacturing world, it’s easy to see process flow. We start out with a raw part and then shape it by removing and adding material, finally assembling and packaging it into a finished product that has a purpose.  Read more to understand more about Office Lean processes.

Read more: Transactional Office Lean

How to Know if Lean Can Work for You

How to Know if Lean Can Work for You

What is Lean?

Lean is mostly a common-sense methodology that requires identifying waste in your processes and then applying tools to reduce or eliminate waste.  Often people new to Lean don’t understand some of the basic linkages between aspects of Lean as discussed in this article.

Lean is defined as “eliminating waste” in processes. Much of this is common sense, although some tools, or ‘countermeasures,’ in Lean can be counterintuitive.

The 8 Wastes as recognized in Lean can be remembered using the acronym DOWNTIME or TIMPWOOD. It's important to remember that these wastes are all symptoms of an underlying problem in the process and it is necessary to get to the root cause of the problem that allows or requires these wastes to occur in order to eliminate them. For instance, imagine a purchase order (PO) being processed to give to a vendor. The PO needs to be written so that the customer receives exactly what is expected when it is inspected and the product conforms to all applicable specs.

Read more: How to Know if Lean Can Work for You

How I Assess Your Operation


How I Assess Your Operation

10 Things I Look For
My job allows me to visit many plants, and my clients often want to know if I can help them improve their operation. When I evaluate an operation, I look at the implementation of hard, Lean tools, as well as soft tools such as evaluating culture, which can be defined as ‘the way people agree to treat each other’.
I have completed these evaluations formally using an audit sheet and a resulting score, but these are the top ten questions that I typically consider when I tour a shop. They form the basis of discussions with my clients during subsequent meetings.  All of these tools fit under the umbrella of continuous improvement (CI).

Read more: How I Assess Your Operation

Effective Meetings

 How to Have More Effective Meetings

Many Typical Meetings
How many times have you ever walked out of a meeting unsatisfied with the result? You go to the meeting on time only to find out that Fred is late again, as usual. Maybe you go into a meeting thinking we’re going to discuss operations issues. The meeting starts that way but then the conversation drifts to topics you can’t control, like traffic, the weather, or school calendars.

Read more: Effective Meetings

Lean Six Sigma for Dummies (A Primer on CI)

Lean Six Sigma for Dummies (a Primer on CI)

What are Lean and Six Sigma?
Too often, writers of Lean topics assume their readers grasp the subject matter as easily as they do. This article, on the other hand, is intended for people who have trouble spelling “Lean.”
The word “Lean” is commonly defined as “the elimination of waste.” But it has recently taken on a wider connotation that also includes “having a mindset of continuous improvement (CI)”—the idea of always looking for opportunities to make the things we do better, faster, cheaper. The word’s more modern definition also incorporates the idea of creating a CI culture in organizations and having all people participate in the changes. Imagine how much further an organization can progress when everyone is involved in CI, rather than just the CI leader or a small team!

Read more: Lean Six Sigma for Dummies (A Primer on CI)

Lean and the 8 Wastes Part One - Definitions

 Lean and the 8 Wastes - Definitions

This article talks about what Lean is and the relationship between the 8 Wastes commonly recognized in Lean and the Lean tools (countermeasures) used to reduce or eliminate the identified wastes in any process.

An Overview of Lean
Lean can be described in many ways. Some definitions focus on elimination of waste, while others state that Lean is mostly common sense. At its core, it's a set of principles that focus on continuous improvement. Lean is derived from the Toyota Production System and is used to make processes more efficient and effective at satisfying customer needs.

These principles apply to all processes that are used on a regular basis, whether it be in the manufacturing or transactional world. Transactional processes are at their heart paperwork processes such as entering orders, creating schedules, quotes or proposals, or processing documentation—physical product is not produced or assembled. Transactional processes are prevalent in every industry beyond manufacturing.

Read more: Lean and the 8 Wastes Part One - Definitions

Kata in Real World Situations

 Kata in Real World Situations

Formal Definition of Kata
Kata is a term used to describe how Toyota uses a formal approach to train its employees (AKA 'learners') improve their continuous improvement (CI) skills. This article addresses 5 questions to use when talking with people on the shop floor to use the kata approach to improve processes without all of the formality.  It steps the learner through the process of improvement  in a natural easy-to-use way that helps them build their skills.

Read more: Kata in Real World Situations