Leadership principles for manufacturing leaders


Manufacturing leaders today have a long list of challenges, from engaging their workforce to creating the right culture. What is required of manufacturing leaders today is very different from in the past. Planning and monitoring used to be enough to be successful; nowadays, other skills are necessary to lead, such as interpersonal skills, negotiation skills, coaching skills, and others.

Let us answer the proverbial question: Are leaders born or made? My answer, any individual can learn to lead; with the right experiences and mentorship, we can develop the principles that can make us successful when leading in different settings.

Principles should help guide your belief system. Once you identify your leadership principles, they should be used as a compass for reasoning, and to help you make decisions.

Here is a list of principles that will help you to become a more effective manufacturing leader:

  • Be transparent – Always share the information you have available with your team. They will thank you for it. Trust issues can develop if your team discovers that you withheld valuable information from them.
  • Be authentic – People appreciate a leader that states the facts as he/she sees them. No one wants to be presented with a diverted version of reality.
  • Lead by example – Whether you are aware or not, your team knows your every move. Each interaction is an opportunity to either build or lose trust, credibility, and respect.
  • Be courageous – During difficult situations leaders have the courage to say what is needed because it is the right thing to do. By not facing your challenges you are failing your team.
  • Know yourself – Self-awareness is a very valuable skill. Many leaders are oblivious to the damage they make to others with their actions. Understand your strengths and weaknesses and how they can affect others around you. Furthermore, work every day to improve on the latter.

    Girl in a jacket

  • Genuinely care for your employees – Don’t just feel this way, show it! Your team should know this without you telling them. Get to know the person beyond the employee you work with.
  • Build your team – broad concept; in short, your team should know how to work together and should have the skills, systems, and processes to function.
  • Praise in public and admonish in privacy – Recognition is longed for by employees, especially among peers. Save the constructive criticism for behind closed-door sessions. Make sure the balance of emphasis is heavily tilted towards the praise side.
  • Be a coach – Understand your role. Leaders should build their teams as opposed to criticize them. Work to help them grow and become better individuals and leaders themselves.
  • Embrace vulnerability – Many manufacturing leaders see vulnerability as a weakness. Most people will gain respect for someone willing to be vulnerable in front of them.

Girl in a jacket

This is not a complete list and it should vary for individuals. However, I encourage you to develop your own, continue to grow it as experiences mold you, and to stay true to them once you make the commitment to become a principled leader.

If you recognize the need to develop your manufacturing leaders and would like to discuss your situation, please schedule a call.

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