Simple Leadership Ideas

Learning is not compulsory…neither is survival. –W. Edwards Demming, quality guru

Kevin Meyer is CEO of a manufacturing company and has other extensive manufacturing and entrepreneurial experience. He is a practitioner and promoter of Lean Manufacturing principles as well as a student (in a way) of Zen. I’ve been reading his book, The Simple Leader: Leadership at the nexus of Lean and Zen.

Don’t let the Zen part throw you off, considering this is a Christian blog. I’ve learned much about mindfulness and calm from practicing Zen. No less a thinking and Christian than Thomas Merton explored the similarities.

However, back to the point–and our Friday leadership lesson.

Foundation of the thinking of the book:

There are two pillars of Lean: Create value through continuous improvement; and, Respect for people.

“Zen is not necessarily a religion: rather, it is a human- and present-centered way of life.”

They go together. I just visited a facility in Mason, Ohio yesterday that operates by Lean principles. You can sense the respect for people principle at work just walking in the front door. Then there is the shop floor. Quiet, clean, brightly lit, people going about their jobs at a steady pace lacking frantic actions and shouting–like it was when I started years ago.

Meyer says, “A hallmark of the best leaders I’ve been lucky to work with is that they are often the quietest people in the room. They don’t feel the need to assert their authority by talking, as they’ve already earned it with their authenticity.”

We know these leaders when we meet them. Talk about calm in the eye of the storm as a metaphor–or follow Jesus’ example of literally calm in the eye of the storm. Treating people with respect. Letting people be free to make decisions providing the context for them to know the right decisions.

For those of us who are task focused, it’s good to be reminded about the other people around. And how to treat them. And how to help them grow. Remaining in the present moment. Maintaining an aura of calm.


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