5 Characteristics that Make You a Lean Leader

February 12, 2022 | Academy, Leadership and Organizational Development

On your way to work, you come up with ten ideas on how to make your daily work routine more effective and efficient for you and your colleagues? Do you see mistakes not as a reason for criticism or self-doubt but rather as an opportunity to learn? Then you should take a look at lean leadership and what it can mean for you personally and professionally.

Shot of a group of colleagues having a brainstorming session at work

Can you relate to this?

It is Monday again. You step back into your familiar routine with a hotheaded boss who likes to put others down. You have colleagues who stab each other in the back at a workplace that was probably last renovated in the 1950s. With these framework conditions, it should be no surprise to management that employees quit and then only do the bare minimum.

The human factor can catapult any company in any industry forward – if the teams are deployed correctly. This is by no means a matter of pure benefit for employees, but rather a show of genuine appreciation for them and the product.

Ideally, everyone pursues the goal of empowering themselves and others, and also shaping their journey to personal excellence. Excellent leadership ensures that everyone is able to carry out their work effectively, efficiently and with motivation. And this is where lean leadership comes in.

How does this work? By allowing executives to say goodbye to outdated leadership styles, reflecting on and adjusting hierarchy and authority in the company and extensively focusing on leadership and effective mindsets, skill sets and toolsets.

If you are not familiar with lean and agile leadership style in terms of lean leadership, you should first read up on the background of lean leadership in the blog article “5 reasons why lean leadership leads to success” and the professional opinions from lean expert Art Byrne in the interview Lean is a growth strategy. With this professional basis, you can develop your own knowledge about lean leadership.

5 characteristics of a lean leader

Those who intensively focus on lean leadership will grow from it, broaden their horizons professionally and personally and discover new abilities in themselves (and in others). Then, the desire to become a lean leader often develops quickly. The advantages are not limited to a professional setting. Lean leaders can cleverly use their new mindset, skill set and toolset also in their personal life in a positive manner that benefits them and others.

But what are the necessary conditions? Among other things, every lean leader should possess and continuously develop these five characteristics:

1. Commitment

When you commit yourself to someone, you commit yourself by making a promise. This is exactly what a lean leader does – with themselves and with others and often with a long-term vision or “North Star.” Before leaders can instruct and empower others, they must be able to carry out these tasks themselves, that is, instruct and empower themselves to persistently do the right thing in the right way. Once this commitment has become second nature, the mindset has become “lean” and you will be prepared to always act proactively, offer others impulses and guide them.

2. Passion for learning – striving for excellence

Lean leadership is not a management style. It is a philosophy, strategy and intelligent approach with effective principles, tasks and tools. It is not a one-off task that only has to be implemented once. Lean leadership is rather a change in mindset coupled with an optimized skillset and toolset. If you want to become a lean leader, you must keep learning in a continuous and clearly prioritized manner, deepen your skills and knowledge until they become a habit, and sharpen your tools as well as a conscious selection of effective instruments. Additional reasons why continued learning in a company is essential can be found in the article Learning is no fun.

3. Team players – empathy and emotional intelligence

Those who only think about themselves and their career are not lean leaders. Because instead of “everyone against everyone,” lean leadership is about empowering yourself and others with empathy to do the right things right and to move together to the next level of performance and quality, especially in the long run. Lean leaders ask themselves two questions: What are the right things for us? How do we do these right? They concentrate on these right things and do everything in their power to ensure that that and all employees achieve them with the right measures and strategies.

4. Decision-making power – decisiveness and competence

As already mentioned, one particularly important question is: What are the right things for us? Lean leaders have to set the focus, choose the right things and make a decision. For this they need to be ready to make a decision and the will to question it constantly. Because even when a decision has been made, it is not set in stone. If lean leaders realize that a decision was wrong, they communicate this openly and transparently. This is part of the decision-making process, along with the willingness and power to make decisions, because mistakes are an opportunity for everyone to learn.

5. Leadership by example – authenticity and high standards

Lean leaders always start with themselves, serving as a role model and exemplifying the desired values, standards and approaches to others. Because lean leaders are aware that they emanate lean leadership. They carry this responsibility within the company and enable, motivate and inspire others to internalize lean leadership. What counts here is not the buzz word “lean leadership,” but the profound spirit behind it, internalizing lean philosophy in your mind and heart as well as the best habits.

Become active – let yourself be trained as a Lean Leader!

The basic characteristics of lean and agile leadership can then be ideally developed with the right impulses and under competent guidance. Because anyone who likes to learn, shape and move things forward is a lean leader.

Do you want to know if and how Lean Leadership can help you in your current situation? Lern more about our Lean Leader Training or contact us without obligation

In our next blog article you can read how you can develop your fine-tuning as a lean leader and which seven influencing factors are important in this process.

Lean Leader Training

The success of the Lean transformation at your company stands and falls with the mindset and abilities of your management. Develop your own Lean Leaders who will pave the way to peak performance in your field of responsibility – with the help of our training to be a Certified Lean Leader. The Lean Leader guarantees that Lean method competence will be sustainably anchored at your company.

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