Friday, October 5, 2007

19.Front-Line Leadership

Attributes of Front-Line Leaders

- Conceptual Thinking (Sense-making)
- Initiative (Visioning)
- Communication Skills (Relating)
- Discipline (Inventing)

Front-line Leadership Illustrated

Necessary Attributes as seen from a plant manger’s perspective:
- Ability to look at a process and identify opportunities for improvement – creativity (Sense-making)
- Action oriented (Visioning)
- Effectively deal with interpersonal conflicts (Relating)
- Build consensus among team members (Relating)
- Perseverance and patience (Inventing)
- Flexibility to change (Inventing)
- Ability to deal with ambiguity (Inventing)

Methods for developing key attributes:
- Keep using the "5 why" process to teach them to dig into processes and start to see improvement opportunities
- Coach them through developing solutions to problems on the floor based on lean fundamentals
- Ensure they are properly trained so they have a framework for problem solving and acting independently
- Measure progress and provide regular feedback
- Provide resources to help with the challenges of start-up

Utilizing Front-line Leadership (a real world story):

- Team leader X was part of the initial planning for the cell roll out for the first lean cell in the plant. As the cell started up, interpersonal conflicts developed between cell members. Many
of the conflicts were a result of changes in layout and
workstation space as a result of cell start up. In addition, all the team members were sharing work instead of working individually and it became apparent that some work rules would
have to change.

- Team leader X was unable to effectively deal with the conflicts and keep the team moving forward. Team leader X couldn't cope with the amount of change within the cell. All
the rules for the hourly workers had to be re-established. Someone had to make the call.

Utilizing Front-line Leadership (a real world story, continued):

- The cell stagnated and the morale of the team members suffered. The HR manager and the production manager started spending a lot of time with employee grievances; this hurt
productivity. Team leader X was moved to another team and team leader Y started in the cell. Team leader Y had very good interpersonal skills and dealt with the cell conflicts that had not
been resolved. Morale within the cell improved noticeably. Productivity improved as well. Team leader X moved on to another cell that had established work rules and was successful as a lead in that area.

Utilizing Front-line Leadership (a real world story,concluded):

- When you move into a lean cell structure, you can plan the 80%
solution and "just do it" or you can plan the 100% solution and you'll never change. front-line leadership must be capable of working through the 20% that you couldn't foresee during the planning process. This is a much more difficult task for senior leads because all the little work rules that developed over the years must be re-established. When you change the way people work by rolling out a lean cell, something as simple as the placement of the coffee pot is a really big deal. These are the issues that will stop your initiative --if you have a leader who can resolve them, great. If not, you must coach your leader. If your leader can't deal with the ambiguity of an 80% solution, you must step in.

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