Friday, July 17, 2009


“Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” John Wayne

There are many traits we add to our leadership list to help us on our lean journey and courage is one of them. It takes courage to turn plans into action. It takes courage to experiment. It takes courage to try something new by removing the warm blanket of comfort that the status quo provides.

It takes courage to admit we don’t know everything, say we made a mistake and make problems visible.

It takes courage to speak up and voice our ideas or thoughts especially if they do not align with the thinking of others.

It takes courage to make decisions and do what is right.

It takes courage to keep trying, get up when we fall down and try again.

It takes courage to stand firm with our principles and values when pressured act against them.

From my all-time favorite movie “Braveheart” with outstanding soundtrack, Sir William Wallace (Mel Gibson) states “Men don’t follow titles, they follow courage.” A title of President, VP or Plant Manager does not make us a leader, only our words and actions grant us that privilege. More importantly, it is not just our prepared speeches or written memos that reveal our courage in leadership, it is in our daily actions and simple comments. It is the little things we say and do every day where our courage can be seen.

Without courage, we cannot improve.


Tim McMahon said...

You are so right with this. It takes courage to implement lean. It takes courage to try again after set back or failure. I visited a plant recently where the local management was afraid to try lean because of failure and have to face the consequences. If the senior management had courage to enable them to try and make failure acceptable and local management had courage to try and not be afraid of failure they would be on there way to implementing lean.

Mark Welch said...

O.K., O.K... Where are some quotes from the Cowardly Lion on this topic?

Seriously, nicely put, Mike. These statements are especially motivating for team members coming from a particular area that are trying to muster up courage to face the status quo and do what is best, versus what is easy. It's easy to be meek and not rock the boat - much harder to take a stand and face the judgment of peers. And, much harder to adopt new ways of thinking, like Lean.

For those of us who are change agents (Supervisors, Managers, Facilitators), facing the scrutiny and judgment of C.A.V.E. People (Citizens Against Virtually Anything) comes with the territory and we are used to it. This is much harder for front line staff who are not normally change agents and are wearing a new hat.

Mike Wroblewski said...

Thanks for your comments Tim and Mark.

Did anyone ever tell you Mark that you are one funny guy? I did laugh at the Cowardly lion remark and I am not a wizard by the way.

It just seems to me that in today's economic woes, more and more people are fearful. This fear is so great the we sometimes fail to draw up the courage to do what we need to do to improve.