top of page

Lean Leadership

Lean Leadership: Why it is a key Enabler for a successful and Sustainable Lean Transformation?


For me the simplest definition of leadership is as follows:

Leadership is not a title; it is an ACTION that anyone conducts at any level in the organization. It is about accountability, responsibility, ownership and timely decision making in order to move the organization towards the ideal state and more important continuously!


The role of lean leadership in LEAN transformation is to embed these behaviors al ALL levels in the organization.

I strongly believe in the old saying; To clean the stairs you have to start from the top!

In my experience during the significant number of Lean Transformations I have implemented worldwide, there are 5 key Enablers that needs to be followed rigidly at all times;


  1. Communications

From day one leadership needs to deliver a strong communication message about the change in order to address the following questions for each employee;

        Why change is needed?  What is the cost of doing nothing? What is in it for me?

        What is in it for my site? What is in it for my country? What is expected from me?


Also, a constant communication about the progress needs to happen weekly, monthly and quarterly.  In fact this is a critical part as most of the organization will focus on communication at the start and then there will be little to no communication and this has a great impact on the success of the change.

  1. Engagement

Employee engagement is vital as they have a great knowledge and experience that needs to be the basis of any improvement and not wasted!

Involving employees in the development of the key pillars of Lean like; Standard work, visual management, continuous Flow, quality at source and TPM will make them feel that they are part of the solution not only the problem and will ease the implementation process as they are implementing their ideas and they are keen to see the success of their work.

  1. Provide a timely support during the execution

During the implementation phase there will be road blocks and resistance from some people who are just anti-change. The leadership roles here is removing the road blocks and provide the required resources to show commitment and gain credibility and trust and this also sends the right message to the employee about the importance of the change. Continuous presence on the shop floor is the biggest support!

  1. Celebrate good results- ALWAYS

We need to celebrate good results exactly when it happens!

For example, having a record shift or a record day performance needs to be celebrated in a way to reflect how much management is appreciating employee hard work to achieve such great results.

I remember in one of my transformation journeys, the site leadership (all of them) celebrated a record week by standing outside the clean room dancing to the music and shake hands with every operator as they leave the clean room!

I still remember operator’s smiles and happiness when they saw such appreciation!

  1. Rewards and Recognition

We must recognize and rewards the good performance or they will disappear. So it is very important to develop a reward and recognition system that embeds this behavior into your organization. I have taken part in many site maturity assessment visits and always people complain about not getting recognized enough for their achievements or not getting recognized in a timely manner and at the proper audience!

Shingo Cultural Enabler Workshop addresses in depth this key element and also behaviors that enable a culture of respect and humility


Dr. A. Hakeem Hammad,

CEO, Xi Horizons Consulting, Ireland

bottom of page