Rising to Leadership Challenges in Lean Times

by  Will Lukang  |  Leadership Development
Rising to Leadership Challenges in Lean Times

In this economic time, leaders are faced with many challenges to keep their respective companies competitive in the marketplace. Factors include the demand from their stakeholders to do more with less, competition from their competitors, and government regulations to have more regulation and oversight that can cause the cost of doing business to go up.

As a result, leaders set their sights on trimming costs and aim to increase market share through better offerings. As the leaders look for ways to improve their company’s bottom line, it is worth noting that there are a few ways of doing it.

The first option is to improve market offerings by providing new products.

The second option is to cut costs.

The third option is to assess the total cost of ownership and determine which slice of the cost can be reduced to help improve the bottom line.

Either way the approach to help improve their bottom line must be a well thought out process that enables them to stay competitive while focusing on sustainability. In an effort to reduce costs, there is one area that I think that is worth exploring. Such activities are so common that sometimes we miss the point. If we capture an inventory of the activities of our people, we’ll be able to use the data to analyze where we can save time. Such opportunity can be addressed by automation to create a straight-through processing or the data can provide you with visibility on where you can delegate work to junior workers and let the senior workers focus on high-value items.

Another area I believe presents an opportunity can be harnessed by developing a keen eye for observation. This is necessary to observe staff members who are unproductive or frequently complaining. These types of people often go around talking to other people and bringing down the moods of coworkers, which ultimately affects their commitment and desire to get their job done. Ultimately, that is the biggest time waster, because it is not easy to detect unless you spend time observing. However, it could be a low-hanging fruit that enables you to correct and helps right the ship.

In the end, whatever approach or solution a leader can implement will help the company head in the right direction. However, if the solution is short term, the effect or impact will not be lasting, thereby creating a new problem for the leader in the future.

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Photo Credit: 123rf/George Tsartsianidis

About The Author

Articles By will-lukang
A dynamic, multi-faceted Information Technology Leader who demonstrates expertise in translating business needs into technology solutions that meet business objectives while developing strategies to optimize processes that improve efficiency and reduce costs. A certified coach, speaker and training from John Maxwell Team. A co-author of The Character-Based Leader.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

John E. Smith  |  19 May 2016  |  Reply

Hi, Will – interesting thoughts.

I am right there with you regarding the value of paying intentional attention to our processes and work flow. The Lean Six Sigma movement is full of handy tools to help us do this and the bottom line is clear: Paying attention and then acting on what you observe or measure makes a strong difference.

About your second point on noticing people’s behavior, I have an addendum to offer. Since you did not specifically indicate that the purpose of this is to identify coaching targets and specific behavioral issues. I think that helping people understand the impact of their behavior is always preferable as a starting point in disciplinary counseling. Using a coaching approach, you can help the person choose to change their behavior to make it more productive in the workplace.

As always, useful observations about how we work and how to do it better.


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