Leadership Headlines Again, by Gary Mintchell
At least this time it isn’t process control.
Failures of leadership, that is. Last month (www.automationworld.com/columns-7356), I discussed the role that leadership played in some of the recent safety problems in process control, leading to death, injury and pollution. This month, the headlines were about the sudden departure of the chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard (H-P), Mark Hurd. This one was the result of an apparent ethics lapse.
There were many articles written in the aftermath of Hurd’s sudden departure. Many ideas centered on ethics and the way he treated people. Research has shown that you don’t have to be a warm personality to be a good leader—but it’s essential that you be consistently fair. All of my research points to ethics and fairness as two key elements of leadership. For more perspective, check out the Automation Team department I wrote on motivation (see Motivating Knowledge Workers).
Eight leadership lessons
While I was pondering leadership questions again, I found an essay on the blog of Michael Hyatt, chairman and chief executive of Thomas Nelson Inc., a publishing house in Nashville, “Eight Leadership Lessons From Martin Luther King, Jr.” It can be found on the Web at michaelhyatt.com/eight-leadership-lessons-from-martin-luther-king-jr.html. These lessons can be used by you, today’s leaders in manufacturing, as you continue to develop your leadership ability.
Hyatt identifies the first lesson as, “Great leaders do not sugar-coat reality.” Certainly, as we’ve endured this manufacturing downturn, you’ve had to deal honestly with your team regarding the facts of the survival of your company. Next, “Great leaders engage the heart.” You will not turn around your manufacturing facility unless you engage your team in the purpose of what you are doing. While you are turning around your business, you’ll practice lesson three, “Great leaders refuse to accept the status quo...”
» PINTO’S PROSE: Strategic Manufacturing, by Jim Pinto
In today’s turbulent and fast-moving business environment, many corporate managers view manufacturing either as a black box or simply as a line item on a spreadsheet.
That’s a serious mistake. Since 1970, America has imported more than it has exported, and U.S. companies have lost their dominant positions in many industries, with their competitive position deteriorating rapidly.
The challenges include increased levels of complexity and uncertainty coming from increased globalization of markets and operations, the diversified demands of customers, drastic reductions in product lifecycles, and manufacturing and technology obsolescence. The manufacturing knowledge base has become more complex, and this process is likely to continue.
The connection between manufacturing and corporate success is rarely seen as more than the achievement of high efficiency and low costs. Top managers, most often with marketing or financial backgrounds, unknowingly delegate a large portion of basic manufacturing policy decisions to lower levels. This abdication of responsibility is part of the reason why many manufacturing policies and implementations developed at lower levels reflect assumptions about corporate strategy that are incorrect or misconstrued. The company’s facilities, equipment, personnel, controls and policies burden it with a noncompetitive posture that may take years to turn around...