When you read the new novel from Freddy Ballé and Michael Ballé, Lead With Respect, you realize that, regardless that we consider governments, institutions, communities or companies, we still have a huge Leadership gap in our society. This gap is largely explained by the lack of a driving value: Respect For People.
However, to close this gap is possible. Respect For People is the strongest commonality that Lean organizations have. They all have learned from Toyota. There, their leaders believe that to waste anyone’s time is to waste their LIFE, and they deeply believe no one has that right.
In this sense, how we understand RESPECT makes a huge difference. This isn’t like just being a servant: taking orders, trying to make people comfortable, etc. but more like being a doctor: asking questions, diagnosing and proscribing for each person what they need to grow and be successful in life.
From the benchmark of Procter&Gamble with Toyota, I remember a quick story from one of Toyota’s former leaders. He had lots of stories of how he learned the philosophy of Toyota leadership, but I was illustrated by one instance. He explained how early at his journey there, after a discussion about the follow-up of a problem at Gemba, his immediate manager held him back, and said:
“You are mistaken. People are not working for you. People work for your customers and YOU work for your people. Don’t ever forget that.”
Respect for People, by working for them, means to fulfill individual’s self-actualization needs: unleashing people's potential by continuously enabling their self-development, creativity, autonomy in the broadest sense: goodness, aliveness, self-sufficiency!
Can you imagine a society where leaders lead with respect? I can. Lean will help us.