Although the official percentage is debatable, on average well over 60% of lean transformation efforts fail. With so many resources available today, from books to articles to consulting firm after consulting firm, how could this be?

Many would say inadequate training, limited internal resources, lack of understanding of the tools associated with lean, not enough time, or inadequate funding, among other reasons.

While each of these is valid, many years of experience in driving lean initiatives and observing first-hand the pitfalls, learnings and the "dos and don'ts," of many lean journeys, I believe it comes down to one key element that must be present above all others: strong leadership.

What do I mean by strong leadership within a lean organization? In an organization attempting to transform itself into a true lean enterprise, this means strong, passionate leaders at the top of the organization who either innately possess or have learned a series of foundational behaviors and values, and who role model these every day.

So what are these values and behaviors, and how does a leader go about teaching and applying them to the broader organization?