Khufu would turn in his grave
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Khufu would turn in his grave

I believe the secret to unlocking success in a business lies with the Shingo principle “lead with humility”. For competitive, ‘all action’, modern day managers and leaders this is a massive challenge. Instead of the daily fix of high energy, win at all costs, beat the opposition (competitors, suppliers, customers, colleagues, regulators, employees – all can all be included here) – managers have to appear vulnerable, willing to learn from others and show an interest in the success of others.

Many will find it impossible to change, having been time served fire fighters and possibly even fire starters.

The Shingo principle “lead with humility” starts off with ‘managers knowing themselves’ – many have no idea about who they are, what they sound like or how they behave. This is where psychometric assessments and coaching fit. Be prepared to take feedback and understand yourself.

If you can understand yourself, you can start to develop trust with the organisation. What is trust though? Trust has two halves – firstly can I inspire people to have confidence in my ability? And secondly can I show empathy in others.

Gaining trust by developing confidence in my ability is the easier if the two – it can be trained. The challenge is not to take over every situation and be prepared to share knowledge.

Showing an interest in others is far more challenging. We need to continually demonstrate benevolence – I have your back, I am interested in you, I see your your strengths, I can learn from you, I believe in you, I want you to succeed……….

The linkage between the two is showing vulnerability. Within the inverted pyramid (Khufu would turn on his grave) leaders exist to ensure the success of their employees and not the reverse.

Tools to ensure that the ability to lead with humility is locked in would include developing ideal behaviours, deploying these to individuals, creating behavioural indicators, giving these indicators equal importance to process measures, developing a coaching culture, carrying out learning reviews, performing real Gemba walks and most importantly – living your values.

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