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Using Continuous Improvement for Leadership

How We Use Continuous Improvement to Build Stronger Leaders

Patrick Sondreal

Strong leadership is crucial in every business environment. You can have the best employees, the most efficient processes, and the highest standards—but without strong leadership to give purpose and direction to the tasks, nothing of great importance will be accomplished, and innovation will come to a halt. Continuous Improvement is a great tool to help leaders be successful, and at IWCO Direct, we understand its significance to helping build a collaborative environment focused on problem solving.

Like most businesses, our ultimate goal is to drive business results. Using Continuous Improvement as the tool to drive results also helps us build employee confidence, provides our workforce a better overall understanding of the business, and encourages our managers and supervisors to be stronger leaders. Continuous Improvement has a synergistic relationship with leadership: when it is enriched, leadership quality is improved—and vice versa.

For example, standardizing processes helps leaders hold employees accountable and creates more measurable metrics for analysis. Not only does this ensure that quality and efficiency are running at top levels, it also empowers leaders with tools to provide employees a clear direction and quantitative goals.

Continuous Improvement Brings Leadership Together

Continuous Improvement helps create paths to work cross-functionally and between departments in a way that puts the focus on how we can improve as a group versus how departments can improve individually. While this might seem like a nuance, it’s not. Often times, when cross-department review sessions are held, the conversation can quickly turn into an “us versus them” confrontation in which the blame-game comes into play, and people feel like they are being attacked rather than receiving constructive criticism.

That’s because the focus is on what each department is doing incorrectly, and not on providing solutions to improve the process. Continuous Improvement looks at hand-offs and communication as part of a bigger picture focused on the betterment of the entire process. It also allows for collaboration in a manner that documents the current state while highlighting hand-off challenges, bottlenecks, information flow, and more. It defines roles and responsibilities and helps us understand what targets should be, establish processes, identify why goals weren’t met, and what we can do to improve them.

Leadership Benefits from Continuous Improvement

Continuous Improvement helps leaders understand what goals to set and what processes will achieve them. It also helps diagnose issues and solve problems by encouraging engagement between leadership and employees to find best solutions. That’s why IWCO Direct has partnered with a third-party consulting group which specializes in Continuous Improvement. This company helps us utilize different roles to drive efficiency and identifies metrics that enable us to set targets and actively measure performance to achieve goals. This changes the conversation from “how best to run our equipment” to “how best to lead our employees.”

As a result, our leaders feel empowered because they know where they’re at in the process and what their goals are. It also lets them know if they’re meeting expectations and provides insights on how to improve results. And because they are confident in their position and what their end goals are, they can motivate their teams to push for better results and achieve higher standards together.

link https://www.iwco.com/blog/2017/07/28/continuous-improvement-builds-stronger-leaders/
Patrick Sondreal

Author

Patrick Sondreal

Director of Client Services, Continuous Improvement and Lean. Graduate of the University of Wisconsin–Madison with an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management. Commissioned officer of the U.S. Navy who brings a commitment to teamwork and continuous improvement to IWCO Direct every day. Wisconsin Badger fan who loves being part of his kids’ activities.

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