Manufacturing Leadership Accountability: Five Essential Questions
Leadership is integral to business success in any industry. Without capable, qualified, and innovative leaders to take charge, a company risks losing its competitive advantage. Good leaders hold themselves accountable, and this ability often stems from a willingness to look inward and ask themselves questions critical for personal and company success.
Consider these five leadership accountability questions — and why it’s important to follow careful thought with strategic action.
1. Does my team have a clear understanding of expectations?
Setting expectations is the de facto role of leadership. Without clear expectations, there’s no consistency within the manufacturing environment. From individual employee expectations to safety standards, production processes, and beyond, success comes down to a universal understanding of what to do and how it should be done. A good leader’s first goal is to set the standard and define expectations.
2. Is everyone on the same page regarding goals and initiatives?
Every company has goals it seeks to achieve. It’s management’s job to clarify broad company goals and break them down into concrete steps individual team members can embrace and act upon. For example, if your company’s goal is to produce 1 million units this year, how can you distill it down into a personal goal your line workers can achieve? When everyone is on the same page about goals, and how their work contributes to company success, it creates a concerted company effort in pursuit of the same collective achievement.
3. Am I creating opportunities for growth among my staff?
Too many manufacturers struggle with hiring and retention. One of the most promising strategies for employee retention is engaging tenured staff in opportunities to grow, learn, develop, and progress in their careers. Leaders should consider whether they’re creating a work environment where employees feel encouraged to pursue growth and advancement. Supporting employee learning and development leads to retention, a higher caliber of effort and productivity, and increased morale.
4. Where does my team excel as a group, and where do we struggle?
Know your strengths and weaknesses and those of your team. Proficient leaders consistently strive to understand and acknowledge both, enhance one, and address the other. Apply your strengths to create competitive advantages and avoid pitfalls that might derail other companies. Get familiar with your weaknesses as well, and make specific efforts to improve upon them. It’s a leader’s job to convert problems into opportunities for success and transform team challenges into strengths.
5. Are we embracing a forward-looking approach in everything we do?
It’s easy to get lost in the minutiae of everyday production processes. Establishing a rhythm is great for production, but leaders aren’t running the line — they’re looking ahead. Are you prepared for the next step of growth? Have you made plans for how you’ll get there? If not, what’s holding you back? Adopt a forward-thinking approach to everything you do, and encourage this perspective in your employees, so they begin to think beyond their current task and understand how their work contributes to the bigger picture.
Manufacturing talent is in high demand. Good leaders are even more scarce. As manufacturers seek sustainable success for the future, they need to develop and rely on active, accountable leadership.