Quality #3: Humility
While many would prefer a leader who is humble enough to recognize the potential intheir colleagues, peers and subordinates; there is also as desire to have a leader who is
confident and strong and conveys an ability to truly ‘lead’ an organization to success. In
the case of a person who is leading an improvement team, the humility that is importantis in reference to terminology, tools and skills.As an improvement team leader your approach should be such that when youcommunicate with your team you are utilizing terminology, tools, and explanations insuch a manner that they can clearly understand what is being stated.
Every profession has its own unique language that sets it apart from otherprofessions. Continuous improvement is no different. The words and phrases used inLean, Six Sigma, Theory of Constraints, TRIZ, etc. have means that are unique to theprocess improvement environment. Every Green and Black belt knows this to be true
based on the number of times that they have been required to explain that their ‘belt’
referred to a level of process improvement training and not to a new martial arts programthat was being started by the organization.
An example from my personal experiences occurred while I was learning to use Minitabfor statistical analysis. I was having some difficulty in transferring the data from MicrosoftExcel into Minitab when my Master Black belt showed me how to concatenate the dataso that it would be easier and much faster to load the data into Minitab. I was very
excited by what I had learned and was quick to begin using “Concatenate” while talking
with my team regarding the project that we were working on. I was also a littledumbfounded the next day when only half my team members showed up again for ourmeeting. I learned a lesson that day not just in communication, but in humility as Iworked to recruit additional team members for the vacancies that I had created. Beconfident and knowledgeable enough to lead your
team without alienating them by actinglike you are above them based on your personal knowledge, terminology and skills.
Quality #4: Active Listening
Learning to interpret and understand non-verbal communications, seeking and achievingclarification of what you heard and engaging in an exchange of information are thefoundation of active listening. It means you hear more than what another person or groupof people is saying verbally.While you may feel that your training and/or experience with process improvementestablishes you as the expert, it does not mean that you are a subject matter expert inthe process that is being evaluated and improved. Those people who live and operatewithin that process on a daily basis, along with the managers who have supervised the
process are the SME’s. If you do not hear what is being communicated and seek to
ensure that you understand the implications of what is being said and not said you arelikely to make a mistake in evaluating the process. This means that any improvementwhich is made will not have been built on a solid foundation and could ultimately lead toan improved process that is worse than the one you started with on day one of yourevent/project.When your situation is such that you are a new hire or an external consultant workingwith an organization for the first time it is imperative that you engage in active listening.The people that you will be working with not only have more in-depth knowledgeregarding the process or processes being evaluated, they also possess a lot of valuable