We’ve all met leaders in manufacturing that inspire, that make their employees feel important, and that help develop greatness in those under them. What do they all have in common? What are the intangible qualities that make people excited to follow their leadership?
Although there’s no cure-all, it’s safe to say there are a set of qualities that leaders in manufacturing should strive to attain on a daily basis. Although there are many important qualities, honesty, trustworthiness, the ability to inspire culture, and the willingness to communicate with those around them (and more importantly, those under them) are must-haves for leaders in manufacturing.
Honesty Is STILL the Best Policy
If there’s a quality that’s both hard to prove, and even harder to maintain with employees, it’s probably honesty. In today’s world, it’s hard to trust people, and even harder to earn trust from others. How are leaders in manufacturing supposed to show that they’re honest? Is there a magic word they’re supposed to say?
The short answer is no, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things leaders in manufacturing can do to create an environment of honesty.
Half of the battle is being conscious of situations where leaders CAN be honest with those around them. Business has become a complicated aspect of modern life. Between NDAs, answering to shareholders, and maintaining a good PR presence, every day won’t provide opportunities to showcase your honesty. However, there are always moments where leaders in manufacturing are faced with an opportunity to either withhold or share the information.
It’s in those moments where honesty has the opportunity to develop trust between employees and their leaders at all levels of the manufacturing hierarchy. Big or small, honesty has a way of developing trust that can lead to a better work environment, company culture, and even increased production.
When people can trust their leaders, there is no hesitancy to give their best.
Trust is a Two-Way Street
As leaders in manufacturing, being open and honest with those under you is one thing, trusting those under you is another.
Everyone has been in a situation where there’s pressure to perform in just the right way. Like a father hesitantly watching his son mow HIS lawn, sometimes leaders can do the same. Trusting those under you to take care of something you care about is hard, but that’s just another challenge of leadership.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, leaders must decrease the tension on the reigns. This does a few things that can drastically change the company. Firstly, this creates a sense of ownership for employees and their work. Ownership takes the pressure off of the leader and puts it squarely onto the employee to perform. This is beneficial for both parties.
One of the biggest complaints in the modern workforce is that people feel like their work is underappreciated or unimportant. When leaders openly lend their trust to those under them, and ownership is created, the quality of work produced by that employee often increases.
With honesty and trust on their side, leaders in manufacturing, at all levels of a company, can focus on bigger picture items.
Leaders in Manufacturing Need to Drive Culture
Culture is a word that gets thrown around a lot in corporate America today. With sayings written on walls, mission statements everywhere, and human resources officers cheering, leaders can be put in an odd position if their company’s culture doesn’t match how they feel.
Regardless of the amount of pamphlets that are printed, a culture is neither created or destroyed. Leaders in manufacturing must take the initiative in actually acting out what their company says is important. They can’t be in the same boat as so many other leaders are. Culture isn’t just about PR, it’s about developing an environment in which everyone is on the same page. From the top down.
Leaders in manufacturing must commit to utmost integrity in how they approach their company’s values. If they’re caught negating their company’s values, what does this say about the words on the wall? They mean nothing.
Although this may seem bleak, it’s important that leaders understand that what they say and do affects everything and everyone. If a leader takes time to vent about the company, this gives everyone else the green light to do just the same.
In order to inspire culture, manufacturing leaders must act it out every day.
Communication is Key
All of these ‘must-haves’ are steeped in one thing, communication.
Without effective communication, leaders can’t share their ideas, they can’t be honest, they can’t show their employees that they trust them, and they definitely can’t inspire culture.
In everything leaders do, communication is key.
This isn’t a new-found idea. History’s greatest leaders deeply understood the pathways of communication in their day and age. Whether it was Martin Luther and his 95 Theses nailed on the cathedral door, or Martin Luther King Jr. proudly preaching on Capitol Hill, these leaders understood the best ways in which they could communicate their ideas.
The same goes with leaders in manufacturing, albeit in much less dramatic fashion.
Whether it’s in the break room, the conference room, or the plant floor, leaders at all levels of an organization have the opportunity to showcase their communication skills through open and honest conversations with those around them. Good communication is a pillar of being a good leader in manufacturing.