A good manager does things right, a leader does the right things.

….In order to be able to implement a successful Lean Six Sigma Management System, we need to make sure that proper leadership is in place.

Let’s start with what leaders and managers do. To be clear, both types of personality traits are necessary for a company, and, actually, a leader should incorporate both of them, depending on the situation.

Effective leaders continually ask questions, probing all levels of the organization for information, testing their own perceptions, checking the facts. They want to know what is working and what is not. Leaders investigate reality, taking in the pertinent factors, and analyzing them carefully. On this basis, they produce visions, concepts, plans, and programs.

Managers adopt the truth from others and implement it without probing for the facts that reveal reality. We all know that there is a profound difference between leaders and managers. A good manager does things right, a leader does the right things.

Doing the right things implies a goal, a direction, an objective, a vision, a dream, or a path.

Management is about systems, controls, procedures, policies, and structure. Leadership is about trust, about people. A leader is someone who has the capacity to create a compelling vision that takes people to a new place and translates that vision into action. Leaders draw other people to them by enrolling them in their vision. What leaders do is inspire people and empower them.

A leader sets his/her focus on:

  • People, talents, vision, mission, values, strategy.
    What and why.
  • Identifying potential.
  • Integrating change.
  • Motivation and trust.
  • Challenges.
  • Empowerment and inspiration through direct communication.

A manager sets his/her focus on:

  • Systems, structures, parameters, and standards.
    How and when.
  • Budgeting and detailed plans.
  • Monitoring and controlling.
  • Maintaining and administrating.
  • Problem-solving and removing obstacles.

Attributes of leadership that every Lean Six Sigma leader should have:

  • Vision: A very clear image of what the company wants to become and which way to go (Creative Leadership).
  • Shared vision: Imparting and understanding of the company’s philosophy and vision so that everyone makes the vision their own (Emotional Leadership).
  • Execution: Being capable of converting the plan into action while supporting everybody (Technical Leadership).
  • Team development: Being able to form great teams that will be self-managed (Human Leadership).
  • Ethical values: Basing all decisions and actions on ethical principles (Ethic Leadership).