Understand Yourself to Understand Six Sigma Leadership

Posted on April 26, 2012


Two six sigma quotes I highlighted to myself recently. The first was from The Six Sigma Leader: How Top Executives Will Prevail in the 21st Century:

“Studies have repeatedly shown that the high failure rate of many promising leaders is largely due to an over-reliance on a limited set of capabilities. Many times leaders are promoted because of a strong record of achievement, only to derail later because of their inability to adapt. For example, an individual may be good at demanding high performance from his or her followers, or have strong technical ability. However, those strengths are not sufficient when, for example, big-picture thinking or relationship building are also essential to success. To prepare yourself and others for growing challenges, you need the clarity of thought and flexibility to understand your own weaknesses and develop new talents.”

The second was from The Six Sigma Handbook, Revised and Expanded: A Complete Guide for Greenbelts, Blackbelts and Managers at All Levels:

“It would be a mistake to think that Six Sigma is about quality in the traditional sense. Quality, defined traditionally as conformance to internal requirements, has little to do with Six Sigma. Six Sigma is about helping the organization make more money by improving customer value and efficiency. Six Sigma focuses on customer requirements, defect prevention, cycle time reduction, and cost savings. Thus, the benefits from Six Sigma go straight to the bottom line. Unlike mindless cost-cutting programs which also reduce value and quality, Six Sigma identifies and eliminates costs which provide no value to customers, waste cost.”

Clearly then six sigma requires leaders who understand that it is not a traditional quality program, but more importantly these leaders must understand themselves. A great six sigma leader is concerned with achieving results through people, the goodwill and support of others (influence), while a weak six sigma leader is not.

What is your experience of quality leadership like? Leave a comment below.

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Posted in: Leadership, Six Sigma