What Makes a Good Lean Leader?

Organizations that want to start becoming Lean need enthusiastic Lean champions, Lean leaders who encourage work teams to raise tough questions and challenge “that’s how we’ve always done it”—including the way those same leaders have always done it.

The strongest Lean leaders are able to recognize when they have made a mistake or need to change and work to change themselves in order to lead organizational change.

For the better part of two years, Carol Basile, deputy director of the Finance and Business Operations Division, has been just that sort of Lean champion leading a Lean transformation in FBOD. The most successful aspect of that transformation was Basile and FBOD director Ken Guy realizing that their initial vision for launching Lean wasn’t working; they admitted they were wrong, scrapped their plans, and re-Launched Lean Thoughtfully.

Sadly (for us), Carol is leaving the county for a new job. We wish her the best.

Carol Basile

On her successful Lean leadership: “I don’t think I’ve been successful—I think FBOD’s been successful. I’ve been fortunate to be one the Lean champions for FBOD. I have to give credit to the people I work with, to the the front line staff who were receptive to something new, and to the other leaders who were willing to try new leadership techniques.

How Carol describes her job

Carol Basile writes a job description for her replacement: “Champion the foundational Lean concepts of respect for people, and that those employees closest to the work are empowered to identify problems and solve them.”

Living visual management

Our favorite Carol Basile story: the time she bolted out of bed at 3 am with an inspiration for better visual management. By the time other employees arrived at work that morning, Carol was already halfway finished cutting up the paper Business Process Standardization Proviso into a visual management board that fostered discussion about the work, that showed everyone what the organization’s goals were, where each piece of work fit into those goals, and how well the work was being accomplished.

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