Are You a True Leader?

Posted by on Mar 5, 2013 in Lean | 0 comments

Oliver Wendell Holmes once stated that there are three kinds of people.  First, there are the small few, perhaps 5 percent, who make things happen.  Second, there is a larger group, perhaps 10 percent to 15 percent of the population, who watch what is happening.  The third group is the vast majority, perhaps 80 percent, who have no idea what is happening.

I was reminded of his statement this morning after reflecting on some of my lean implementation projects with clients.  During team presentations, suggestions are typically made to improve some aspect of the business in which there is a problem.  But what I usually find interesting is that several people (typically managers or engineers) have known about some of the problems for a long time and have done nothing about them, even when some of the solutions are very obvious and easy to implement.

 Why is that?  Here are some thoughts I had:

  • Could it be the culture?  Is it acceptable to try something and fail?  Is the fear of failure so bad that it keeps people from even trying to implement something they know will work?
  • Is it apathy?  No excitement in the workplace?  I just come to work everyday, do my job, and collect my paycheck every other week.
  • Is there not enough time in the day?  Is everyone running around all day putting out fires?  Is there no time in the day-to-day grind to sit down and think about how to work smarter, not harder?

A true leader makes things happen.  They’re not satisfied with the status quo.  They continually look for ways to make things better, working smarter, not harder.  They just don’t complain that things aren’t right, but offer constructive solutions to problems they know about.

What kind of leader are you?  Are you in the 5 percent category that makes things happen?

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