Secrets of Great Leaders

On a regular basis, I work with various manufacturers, including platers, stampers, casters and assemblers. I also work with food processors such as bakeries, pickle processors, dog treat manufacturers and companies that produce nutritional supplements.
Can you name one thing these distinct companies have in common? Everything they produce is done with PEOPLE. Yes, regardless of what business they are in, they are first and foremost in the people business! Obviously, machines and equipment perform many of the processes, but they all must be run through people. And, if you don’t have your team on board with what needs to be done, then success will be difficult.
Recent studies show two thirds of workers are disengaged at work and one of the top reasons people leave their jobs is because of a bad boss. In the past, competitive wages and benefits helped increase recruitment and retain good employees, but this is no longer the case since most jobs within comparable industries offer similar packages. Let’s look at the traits and characteristics (the secrets) of great leaders.
Someone who feels appreciated is more likely to go above and beyond their expected job duties. While line leaders and supervisors may not have the direct ability to give raises, they do have the power to thank, appreciate and inspire. Regardless of inflation, saying thank you and giving pats on the back are free and make a huge difference in the attitude of an employee.
Both morale and motivation can be improved through an inspiring leader. Do you ever wonder what puts people in a bad mood before they’ve even left their house? Usually, it’s the anticipation of the mess awaiting them at work. We’ve all heard the saying ‘another shift left us in a bad spot.’ But do we know what a ‘good’ spot is and why aren’t we there?
To avoid this, a good leader can do everything in their control to ensure their team is properly set up and prepared to effectively perform their job. Reducing uncertainty and creating stability for your team lets them know you are looking out for them. A strong leader who guides, protects and puts them in a position to succeed, will improve the team’s efficiency.  
When hiring we put a lot of emphasis on resumes and credentials. Unfortunately, those only show what a person can do, not what they will do. Successful leaders create an atmosphere where the best will be drawn out of the team. Establishing trust and security will allow people to want to perform their best. This shouldn’t be forced or manipulated and should demonstrate genuine appreciation and honesty.
One of the main focal points of our Supervisor Skills courses are the scientifically proven methods of ethical influence. Essentially, how you get people to say yes to your request without the use of coercion or manipulation. We cover the six laws of ethical influence: reciprocity/obligation, scarcity, commitment, social proof, authority and liking. Using any of these methods will greatly increase the likelihood of your request being accepted.
Remember, regardless of what products we make, or what business we think we’re in, we are in the people business first!
The Center is here to help ensure your leadership team is equipped with the skills needed for success. Register for an upcoming course here and learn more about our Leadership services here.
MEET OUR EXPERT: John Spillson, Lean Business Advisor
Picture1.jpgSince joining The Center in 2014, John Spillson has worked to mentor manufacturers on Lean and Leadership strategies as well as provide expert support to food processors. His experience in operating his own business has given him knowledge in production, sales, food safety, marketing, warehousing and logistics. John provides a variety of Leadership training to manufacturing clients, including Supervisor Skills and Manufacturing Skills Development, and assists with conducting The Center’s Technology Opportunity Assessments.
Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at

Categories: Continuous Improvement, Leadership/Culture, Manufacturing, workforce