Though seemingly counter-intuitive, leadership is an after-the-fact phenomenon; it is the label for something, but it is not the something. In the moment, there is not leadership, there is only action. Leaders do not lead, they simply act in ways that have others take actions and produce results that were not likely beforehand. Leadership is what we label that phenomenon.
We assert that in regards to quality your people are not taking the right actions–and that it is not because of a lack of leadership. Your people are acting exactly consistent with what your organization and its people reward and reinforce (both officially and unofficially); at most companies leadership is not in the conversation of what matters in any sufficient way.”
Transforming your organization to have outstanding quality should be at the heart of every company’s work. It’s not about leadership; it is grounded in shifting the conversations in which your executive team, your colleagues at senior levels throughout the organization, the people who do the work and who support the work of building fuel systems, camshafts, etc., and–most importantly–you yourself traffic.
Saying “we need leadership” in a culture that doesn’t call for it will have almost no real impact. Tackling the conversations which shape how things occur for your people will make all the difference. Doing so effectively will be touted as providing real leadership.