Leadership is a Habit

I've been doing quite a bit of reflection on habits lately, after reading Charles Allen's book, Managing Minds, probably for two reasons, 1) my bad habit of procrastination regarding non-value-added tasks and 2) this nagging feeling that leadership is closely dependent on habit formation in some way or another.
On the social network, LinkedIn, I asked the question regarding habit formation, breaking habits, etc. and how that played into leadership and standard work. Many people responded to the question, in slightly different ways, but all agreed that old habits must be replaced by repeating a new one until it is the dominant habit.
In the workplace, I can't help but think this must be led by the supervisor or team leader of an area. After all, they are only one close enough to the process to see variation everyday, yet be able to sort of which habits must be broken first through standardization and then the systematic pursuit of perfection. All of this must be done in alignment with business needs, so if done correctly, the supervisor can develop his people while meeting business needs such as cost reduction, reduced scrap and improved delivery.

While browsing learning organization sites today, I ran across this "time capsule" site. In the sidebar was a quote by Aristotle that suggests that leaders must make a habit of leading.

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit."


For supervisors on the shop floor, then, the habit of excellence must be done with each and every person, every day. It seems to me that this can best be done by using the J programs in a well thought out Kaizen Teian system. Last Friday on 11/16, Chuck Yorke delivered to the Vermont Manufacturer's Forum a talk regarding suggestion systems. Chuck implemented a daily continuous improvement program at Technicolor where employees offered and implemented over 20,000 ideas per year! The work done at Technicolor was so impressive that, in fact, SME created a video of the program, called The Human Side of Lean at Technicolor. This can only be done by getting people to think about their work and make suggestions until it becomes a habit. In fact, we discussed with the Chuck the value of using a program like TWI as the foundation for a solid suggestion program to which he agreed would only bolster a program such as the one at Technicolor. Chuck really helped me understand how to link how we engage people, similar to those taught to TWI supervisors, to the success of the suggestion program. Thanks Chuck!

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