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Anatomy of a Lean Leader


Leaders of lean-thinking organizations require some unique, even contradictory traits. They must be servants as well as trailblazers, good listeners and mentors as well as visionaries and team players. While traditional companies might be able to get by with old-fashioned, command-and-control managers, lean organizations need the talents, enthusiasm, and opinions of every person. This means that leaders must serve the people and the processes while guiding everyone toward fulfilling the organization’s true purpose. It is a tall order and, in many ways, a new definition of leadership. For 30 years, Jerry Bussell studied leadership while bringing lean practices to companies such as Medtronic and becoming a passionate, well-known advocate for lean. In that time, he saw many lean initiatives fail through lack of leadership or repeated missteps by those in charge. Realizing that leaders rarely understood the needs of an organization that is becoming highly efficient, self-motivated and improvement driven, he set out to help. In a lean environment, after all, true leadership is not a nicety; it is a necessity. In this book, Jerry identifies the ten essential characteristics of a lean leader and illustrates those traits with stories from modern CEOs and one of this country’s greatest leaders, President Abraham Lincoln. Whether you are a CEO or running your first kaizenevent, this book will keep you engaged and help you focus on the behaviors and attitudes that are essential to creating the kind of continuous open-loop improvement that is the heart of lean thinking.
About the Shingo Institute

Housed at the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University, the Shingo Institute is named after Japanese industrial engineer Shigeo Shingo. Shingo distinguished himself as one of the world's thought leaders in concepts, management systems and improvement techniques that have become known as the Toyota Business System. Drawing from Shingo's teachings and years of experience working with organizations throughout the world, the Shingo Institute has developed the Shingo Model™ which is the basis for several educational offerings including workshops, study tours and conferences. It also awards and recognizes organizations that demonstrate an exceptional culture that continually strives for improvement and progress. Those interested in more information or in registering to attend the 30th International Shingo Conference may visit