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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Six Sigma—Leadership Development

Smart leaders are constantly trying to surround themselves with the right people. You will find that Six Sigma is a great developmental process for your future leaders. James Kouzes and Barry Posner in their book, The Leadership Challenge, say great leaders

  • Challenge the process.
  • Inspire a shared vision.
  • Enable others to act.
  • Model the way.
  • Encourage the heart.

Challenge the Process. You will train Master Black Belts, Black Belts, and Green Belts—hereafter referred to as Belts—to challenge (and improve) the process by the very nature of Six Sigma. Any shortfall in performance can always be tracked back to a poorly executed business process. Six Sigma provides a set of roadmaps that specifically delineate the steps with which to challenge any process.

Inspire a Shared Vision. You will also train your Six Sigma Belts to become dynamic team leaders. They will learn the value of inspiring a shared vision with respect to the projects they are assigned. They will enable others to take action by teaching their teams the tools of Six Sigma.

Enable Others to Act. Each person on a Six Sigma team will be able to walk away and solve some of their own problems. Your Six Sigma Belts will model the way by leading their teams from the front to successfully solve problems. They will always be the leader their team looks to for guidance. As they progress through their career ladders, as midlevel and senior-level leaders, they will set clear expectations because it will be obvious they have already done Six Sigma and they know what they can get out of Six Sigma.

For example, while working with Jim McNerney of 3M in launching Six Sigma, Jim drove one of the fastest launches of Six Sigma on record. But it worked because it was obvious when he spoke that he knew what he was talking about. In fact, he taught me a thing or two about Six Sigma. He had launched Six Sigma into two divisions of General Electric successfully and it showed.

Model the Way. Six Sigma provides the perfect leadership training experience. The Six Sigma Belts demonstrate their capability in leading through well-defined, well-resourced projects with quantitative goals for accountability. The good leaders will be easy to identify. Poor leaders will become evident as well. You will rely on a quantitative measure to select your high-potential people during your succession planning—by tracking how much money they brought to the bottom line in their Six Sigma projects.

Encourage the Heart. And, finally, your Six Sigma Belts will know how to encourage the heart. They will show their teams that they can win against the odds. They also will show their teams that they can accomplish amazing things if they keep the goal in sight and follow the discipline of Six Sigma roadmaps.

Every company has a method to identify and groom high-potential employees. The problem with the identification process is the lack of quantifiable qualifications. There is error in the selection process no matter how good it is. Real A-players are missed and lower potentials are sometimes selected. With Six Sigma, it’s easy. If a project leader brings in $1 million to the bottom line, chances are good that he or she has a lot of potential. You will find quite a few "sleepers"—high-potential people who have been flying under the radar, but who flourish within the discipline of Six Sigma.

A senior leader in Cummins said it best, "All our future leaders need to be experts in process improvement." Think of it—an outstanding group of young leaders who are not afraid of breaking paradigms, love driving change, and are experts in process improvement.

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