Seven Requirements for Leadership

Dec. 11, 2018
Eternal truths for today's aspiring leaders

While cleaning out an old file from my days serving on the advisory board at the Tauber Manufacturing Institute, University of Michigan, I found some notes I’d used to discuss with the students the responsibilities of leaders.

The message is as true today at it was then for today’s aspiring leaders. Here are the main points we discussed.

Leadership requires:

  • A strong work ethic. We can’t expect more from our people than we are willing to do ourselves.
  • An attitude that we will do whatever it takes to get the job done. This communicates our high expectations and our pledge to the performance metrics we’ve committed to. (This, of course, requires no immoral, unethical or illegal behaviors!)
  • A “can do” attitude to challenge, and ultimately demonstrate a high energy level to smash, long-standing paradigms in the business. As Joel Barker says: Those who say it can’t be done need to get out of the way of the people who are already doing it!
  • A keen sense of urgency, a passion to run to the problems and a dedication to use good process, not heroics, to eliminate the root cause of problems.
  • The discipline to work with a sense of priority. Think in Pareto (80-20 rule) terms to deal with the most significant few issues, i.e., the ones that have real impact/leverage to improve the business for customers, shareholders, employees.
  • A sound time management system for daily use. Time is the only resource we all have the same amount of: 24 hours in a day. How effectively we use this scarce resource has a huge impact on our success or failure as a leader.
  • The ability to lead by example. Be the model for the skills development necessary to change how people think, work and behave. Educate, train, mentor, communicate, develop your people.

Time waste differs from material waste in that there can be no salvage.” -- Henry Ford

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” -- Albert Schweitzer     

Larry Fast is founder and president of Pathways to Manufacturing Excellence and a veteran of 35 years in the wire and cable industry. He is the author of The 12 Principles of Manufacturing Excellence, A Lean Leader's Guide to Achieving and Sustaining Excellence, 2nd. Edition.

About the Author

Larry Fast | Founder & President

Larry Fast is founder and president of Pathways to Manufacturing Excellence and a veteran of 35 years in the wire and cable industry. He is the author of "The 12 Principles of Manufacturing Excellence: A Leader's Guide to Achieving and Sustaining Excellence," which was released in 2011 by CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, as a Productivity Press book. It was a best seller in its category and a 2nd. Edition was published Sept. 24, 2015. It features a new Chapter 1 on leadership, various updates of anecdotes, and new electronic tools on the accompanying CD. At Belden, where he spent his first 25 years, Fast conceived and implemented a strategy for manufacturing excellence that substantially improved manufacturing quality, service and cost. He is retired from General Cable Corp., which he joined in 1997 to co-lead North American Operations. Fast later was named senior VP of North American Operations and a member of the corporate leadership team. By 2001 the first General Cable plant had won Top 25 recognition as one of the IndustryWeek Best Plants. By 2008, General Cable manufacturing plants had been recognized for 19 awards. Fast holds a bachelor of science degree in management and administration from Indiana University and is a graduate from Earlham College’s Institute for Executive Growth. He also completed the program for management development at the Harvard University School of Business in 1986.

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