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The Essential Skills & Knowledge for Every Leader

Aug 13, 2014 | Posted by Matt Elson


Leaders get results through people.  Without that, you’re not a leader.  It’s up to you to drive towards your true north condition, whatever that may be.  In order to get there, a leader should focus on developing these essential skills and knowledge.

Knowledge of the Work

Leaders must posses a deep understanding of the work that is being done and the processes that are involved.  No “professional” managers here, armed with theoretical models and business management textbooks.  Real-life, in-the-trenches experience and technical skill.

Knowledge of Responsibilities

“Talk to HR about that” or “That’s Quality’s [the department] issue, not mine” won’t cut it.  People look to you for guidance and you better have a good handle on what the safety regulations are, what the general company policies.  ”Just follow what Fred does” is a cope out.

A leader knows their goals and targets on a hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly…well, you get the point.  A leader knows what needs to get done.

Skill of Instructing

Not stand-at-the-front-of-the-room-speaking “instructing” (you know the kind…you get this a lot at some conferences!).  Leaders must have deep experience in incremental training methodology.  Not just telling, but showing and explaining the important steps, key points and reasons why.  Trying out performance and making sure that the trainee can perform the job according to safety, quality, quantity and cost standards.

Skill in Improving

Leaders need in-depth skills when it comes to making improvements and problem solving; process improvements to make the work easier and more effective.  Standardized work, problem solving and kaizen mindset are everyday skills and thinking that need to be developed in others.

Skill in Leading

While we can endlessly debate on whether leaders are born or bred, there are some basic skills that can help us.  Practicing giving prompt feedback on performance, sharing information about changes, encouraging open dialogue.  LISTENING!

Don’t jump to conclusions, but get the facts, weigh & decide on your course of action, take action and review the results.  These simple techniques give you a great foundation as a leader.

Leaders support standardized work and problem solving on the front line, and take action to help their teams.  Teaching &  developing others and sharing knowledge systematically is your most important role!

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