Habit 4

Habit of building authority by demonstrating integrity.
  • Building your authority through integrity by practicing Policy deployment not Expediency.

The rule is Policy first, Expediency follows. Building your authority means practicing all the 16 habits every day.  Here we focus on how the Integrity of your character must follow the Policy set out by the organisation and where expediency may be engaged only after this. How do you take actions each day reflects your leadership style, influences the organisational culture and builds or reduces your credibility of authority?

  • Policy in lean leadership terms means practicing safety for employee first, quality and timely delivery for the Customer next, then followed by cost and productivity for us, the organisation, in that order.

We often see experts refer to measuring KPI on white boards using the acronym SQDC (Safety, Quality, Delivery, Cost) often followed by other KPI’s such as Kaizen and Environment and so on. Nothing wrong with this. But that’s only part of the story. The point is no one talks about the why and for whom these KPI are important.

Safety is always the first KPI and it must relate to the safety of the employee. Having a safe environment to work in, we next focus on what our customer needs, this being quality of product and service. Finally, having a safe environment for employees to work in, we focus on quality for customers, followed hot on the heals by focusing on cost and productivity for us, as a business. This is a good place to recall Demings wheel, PDCA (Plan, Do, Check and Act). For each of the Policy KPI’s we have above, we continually improve all four through PDCA.

The integrity part comes in when we need to make a decision, do we use expediency in our decision making, of course we do, but expediency follows policy not the other way around. So an example of this would be as follows. You have a deadline to deliver an important project. Let’s say it’s the development of a new product, a piece of software, or a component for a vehicle, new model of passenger aeroplane, an anti-virus vaccine. Do you circumvent policy for expediency? Just think about it. How many disasters, catastrophes have we seen just over the last few years, simply because leadership pushed expediency in-front of policy. One high profile case would be a social media platform which pushed profits before safety of end-users, especially children. Expediency said, we can make even more money and win political favours if we do this and that. Policy was suspended, society was mis-informed, teenagers where psychologically affected by such decisions.

  • The rule is simple, if you do not insist on policy first, then expediency simply means making decisions for the sole purpose of enriching oneself, increasing power and further satisfying one’s own ego.

Do you cut corners, do you overlook the safety, does quality suffer, just to get the delivery on time to the customer! How often c-suite has placed cost and productivity, in other words self-interest, in-front of safety for employees and quality for its customers?

How often have I come across companies that push employees, machines and production lines to their limit (muri) just to get the sales figures to or beyond budget.

How often has customer delivery been the driver for decision making ignoring safety.  It happens all the time. Of course, if it’s all about just pleasing the boss, if it’s just about getting your bonus, then sure, expediency is king, somehow the safety thing will be ok, customer is king too, so let’s do everything to make sure the customer is happy. Right, very simple logic. NO, this is wrong. The problem is you, it’s not about the customer, it’s your lack of credibility due to your lack of integrity and then you say you want to build a quality driven organisation, right.

Organisations have “Operating Policy statements” so that management have clear guidelines on how to respond to in specific situations. Does your business have an Operating Policy Statement, and if it does not, why not, what is it costing you in your safety at work? What is it costing you in terms of customer quality which reflects your customer rejections and complaints. If your business does have an OPS, does it add a foot note to say, but you can use your own judgement and set of rules if you think its ok to do so. Hopefully, it does not.

Now, some organisations have many OPS which cover how departments such as IT, finance, HR, production, sales and so on function. But in each of these departmental and at the strategic level SQDC still needs to be followed. Make sure your OPS’s are convergingly coherent, ethical and consistent.

  • If you want to build your authority through integrity make sure you follow the rule, policy first, then follow this by business expediency.

Integrity is not one characteristic of your behaviour, it is a collection of behaviours such as honesty, being ethical, punctual, open and sincere. It demonstrates to others that you can manage your daily life based on a set of moral principles and values. That is why many organisations insist on creating a framework within which management, especially senior management, act out their daily functions within the ramifications of a set of previously agreed and understood behaviours.

Fragment from author M.M.Forkun “Leading Lean to the Higher Level”.