Create a culture of leaders

Karin Lindner   

Business Operations General Manufacturing Leadership Lindner management manufacturing Technology

Turn disruptive management into influential leadership.

A  lot of things have changed for North American manufacturers over the past couple of years in this part of the world. Yes, we can make things and do it well if we establish a true “Handwerker mentality” – craftsmanship at its finest combined with state-of-the-art technology. Indeed, “Made in North America” is recognized as a brand that stands for high quality.

But one thing that hasn’t changed much for many manufacturing companies is the lack of leadership. Although we have entered the age of technology and the knowledge worker, most management teams continue to see people as bodies rather than minds – a management style that won’t work for the younger generation we want to attract to this vital industry.

A manager gets paid to lead the way and to lead by example, but a leader doesn’t need an official title. Everyone can make a difference within their immediate circle of influence.

Leadership is a big responsibility that has everything to do with the effect we have on others.


Have you ever heard someone remark, “I try to go the extra mile at work but my boss always finds me and brings me back?”

A team is only as good as the person who leads it.

Fear-based and controlling management behaviours are detrimental to productivity, innovation and creativity. Sensible performance goals are important to help people understand what’s required but they can easily turn into an unhealthy obsession with hitting the monthly key performance indicators or KPIs (which could also stand for “killing people’s ideals”). Treating employees like numbers affects their self-worth. If the self-worth of the workforce decreases, so will the net worth of the company.

There is a better way. Getting out of the way of people who can make things happen is a good start.

It’s about creating a culture in which people feel appreciated and want to give their best. We need leaders who are capable and confident, who will develop leaders at all levels of the organization instead of directing what some may consider to be mindless followers. It’s also about encouraging “intrapreneurship” and creative thought, allowing people to fully utilize their talents and abilities to communicate and implement their ideas. Influential leadership has one goal: to unlock everyone’s full potential.

This journey to personal excellence begins with being honest with yourself and being more self-aware. George Bernard Shaw said, “There is no progress without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

Consider the following:

• What is not working for you right now?
• What do you think is not working for your team?
• Do you want things to change?
• Do you expect people to change?
• Are you willing to change?
• What are your thoughts and your beliefs when it comes to the people you interact with on a daily basis?
• What would they say about you?
• Do you feel that you can trust your team?
• Can they trust you?
• Do you have frustrated and negative people in your work environment?
• Are you sometimes frustrated and negative?
• Can you see that your team may be capable of so much more?
• Are you capable of so much more?

If expectations, responsibilities and accountability are aligned, your organizational transformation is well on its way.

What’s needed most in our current work environments is “Mut zur Menschlichkeit”, a German phrase that means courage for humanity. Work harder on yourself than the people around you. The results will be astounding.

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