Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Leader's Role in Leading Change

You Must Lead the Change

What is your role in leading change and assuring successful transformation to a Lean working culture? What is expected of you? What is the difference between leadership and management?

John Kotter, a voice of the Western management style, would say,
"Leadership is the development of vision and strategies, the alignment of relevant people behind those strategies, and the empowerment of individuals to make the vision happen, despite obstacles. This stands in contrast with management, which involves keeping the current system operating through planning, budgeting, organizing, staffing, controlling, and problem solving."

Both roles are very important to business success and we often wear both hats.

But Deming would call us to a different understanding for business success in the LEAN culture, notably his Principle #7- Adopt and Institute Leadership.  By leadership he means, 

"The job of management is not supervision, but leadership.  Management must work on sources of improvement, the intent of quality of product and of service, and on the translation of the intent into design and actual product."

In other words, your primary focus is overseeing the continuous development of a better system of work in which employees can be more effective in achieving the goals that you have assigned them. Otherwise, you're not doing the job. And they can’t be expected to do their jobs to your level of expectation in a flawed system of work.

To quote Deming again,  "The required transformation of Western style of management requires that managers be leaders."

Kotter's 8 Steps of Change

Change, especially significant change of the status quo is not easy. Everyone loves the idea of change for the better, until it’s his or her time to change. Kotter describes a number of managerial behaviors that are critical to succeed in producing change. When managers produce successful change of any significance in organizations, the effort is usually a time-consuming and highly complex 8-step process, never a 1-2-3, hit-and-run affair.  According to Kotter, managers who opportunistically skip steps or proceed in the wrong order rarely achieve their aspirations.

In the most successful change efforts, leaders must move through 8 complicated stages in which they (1) create a sense of urgency, (2) put together a strong enough team to direct the process, (3) create an appropriate vision, (4) communicate that new vision broadly, (5) empower employees to act on the vision, (6) produce sufficient short-term results to give their efforts credibility and to disempower the cynics, (7) build momentum and use that momentum to tackle the tougher change problems, and (8) anchor the new behavior in organizational culture.


W. Edwards Deming: Out of the Crisis. MIT Press 2000.
John P. Kotter: On What Leaders Really Do. Harvard Business School Press, 1999.


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