Leadership:Lead by example

A true lean transformation can't happen without enough people doing the right thing, as a habit. It starts at the top with leaders putting their money where their mouth is, in other words... leading by example.

For instance, take 5S.  Your desk, your office, your work area should have the same rules and disciplines that are in place on the shop floor. Otherwise it's do as I say not as I do. Don't shoot yourself in the foot by having a disorganised area or have samples lying around, if you want to inspire others to behave in a certain way then it's important to lead by example.

Walk the business and shopfloor daily for 10 mins

Get into a routine of walking the shopfloor daily for 10 mins. It's your opportunity to practice what you preach and to show a good example without even speaking.  When you walk around make sure you:


  • Wear the right PPE

  • Stick to the gangways

  • Don't use your phone

Undoubtedly your team will be watching you and if you're straying off the gangway or using your phone in the presence of forklifts then it's a clear signal that the rules can be flouted.

Walk the shopfloor but not alone

To get the most out of your daily walk treat it as a coaching opportunity, take somebody with you. Not so that you can just chirp at them for 10-15 minutes but so that you can ask some questions: 

  • What do you think of this?

  • What do you like about that?

  • What don't you like about that?

You can coach and walk, multiple benefits

Look at how people are working

As you walk around, pause and watch somebody working. Take a look at what they're are doing and how they're doing it: 

  • Are they bending?

  • Are they stretching or overreaching?

  • Can you see obvious ergonomic issues?

It's your chance to see if your people are working safely or if you are over burdening them, making simple interventions can make someones job much easier.

Ask 4 magic questions

It's all too easy to walk the factory and not bother engaging with the people doing their job. This might sound simple but as you walk engage and ask four magic questions that are really useful to see how well you've set the operation up for them

  1. How do you do this work?

  2. How do you know you're doing it correctly?

  3. How do you know the outcome will be defect free?

  4. What do you do if you have a problems?

These four questions and the answers that you listen to will tell you everything you need to know about how strong your standardised work is and how well it's being trained.

Problem follow up sheets

You’re likely to have improvement follow up sheets (or by a different name problem follow up sheets/problem and countermeasure sheets) on the shop floor which your team leaders/cell leaders/group leaders are using to manage how they closeout issues and problems and Kaizen. Stop at some of these stop at least one and have a look at how it's being used is it up to date is it being filled in in different pens different handwriting are things being closed are things being owned by people?

Watch our tips on leadership on our YouTube channel here
Problem follow up sheets