Lesson 3: What Should I Know?
Lean Leadership Principle:
Content Based Leadership – Have deep knowledge of your functional area and adjacent functions. Understand key operating principles and communicate these effectively to team members.
Why is this important to me as a leader?
As leaders we need to have a deep understanding of our functional areas so that we can help, coach, teach, and train our teams to better support our organizational purpose and principles. This means we need to be Content Based leaders. What do we need to know?
Have Deep Knowledge of Your Functional Area and Adjacent Functions
Reread last week’s lesson. Go ahead…I’m waiting…
In order for us to have a great understanding of our functional areas and the adjacent functions we must align our people and process around customer’s needs first (a.k.a. customer orientation -- he he, I told you to reread that lesson). To do this we have to get used to thinking in terms of value stream thinking, or systems thinking.
“A value stream is ‘all of the actions, both value-creating and non-value-creating, required to bring a product from concept to launch and from order to delivery.’ A leader uses value-stream thinking to see and manage the whole of a system or enterprise, as opposed to sub-optimizing single processes or silos”. -Lean Lexicon: A Graphical Glossary for Lean Thinkers, Fourth Edition
First we must understand the value our team provides to the next process (our immediate customer) in our value stream and then create operating principles to deliver, and increase that value. What value does your team provide to the next process or your customer?
Know, Communicate and Support the Operating Principles
Operating principles, unlike our mission, vision and values are more tactical in nature. They help direct both us and our teams in how to operate. Just like any principle they are non-negotiable. For example, the Sales and Marketing department could have an operating principle that says, "We set sales targets and manage to them," or "We treat qualified leads with a sense of urgency."
If you have them, reflect on your own operating principles. Do they help you as a leader to coach your team? How do they support your vision? Do they help you make decisions that support said vision and mission? Do you live by them? Do they help you approach your work?
If you were to develop operating principles for your functional area or value stream, what would they be? Once you have developed a few operating principles, communicate them to your team. Better yet, collaborate and improve upon them together! Post them visually, talk about them frequently, and check-adjust your work against them.
Next week, we'll discuss the principle of Content-Based Leadership - PART II.
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