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The Importance of Team Leaders on the Shop Floor

by Andrew Quibell
January 26, 2016

The Importance of Team Leaders on the Shop Floor

by Andrew Quibell
January 26, 2016 | Comments (3)

Change agents are key to making lean happen and making improvements stick. Yet the value of competent team leaders trained in basic lean techniques is grossly underestimated and underutilized by next-level management. Why do we, the management, underestimate that importance, you ask? 

It’s a lack of vision, in my opinion. We often see the team leader as a luxury we don’t need; an overhead, indirect cost to be cut when the going gets tough.

But that couldn’t be further from reality. The heartbeat of an effective TPS deployment is the role of the team leader, as you’ll see in my sketch. And if you need more proof, look straight to the bottom of the sketch for a real-life example of a company that uses team leaders to their full potential.

Now that you've seen the sketch, I ask you: has it helped change your view of the role of team leaders on the shop floor? It is the drumbeat (‘takt’) of your operation if used properly!

The views expressed in this post do not necessarily represent the views or policies of The Lean Enterprise Institute.
Keywords:  leadership,  manufacturing,  Toyota
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3 Comments | Post a Comment
Freddy Torres February 01, 2016

Hi Andrew,

I complety agree with you. A large number of operations leaders as well as colleagues from Finance have a common tendency to see Team Leaders as just indirect cost, luxus as you mentioned.

For me this lack of vision is related to no real understanding of the total cost and the real  purpose of this function. Team leaders are a fundamental part of the JIDOKA concept as they ensure standard work routines and the flow in their areas.

Without a "Vision" this topic will be always challenging in any organization.



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Walter Kade February 01, 2016
1 Person AGREES with this reply

I will agree also. Operations will even go so far as to rate the Team Leaders on their evaluations as team leaders with no real defined role in the organization other than rabitts chancing parts then wonder why it doesn't work

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Vince Dowling February 02, 2016

I totally agree, I come from the shop floor and was that soldier but as that soldier I had to develop myself, I had to drive my self to all the levels I have achieved.

My question is how do we set up the environment to deliver Operational Leaders of the future?

When we look at TPM it is all about autonomy, Step 7 in AM is really the first step in the next journey of TPM, it is to late to start worrying about leadership then.

I have lots more on this subject and the key steps along the way, but it would be great if people could share how they have built this Operational Leadership Environment.

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