Hiring great leadership qualities for any position can be a daunting task all on its own, then add “lean” skills into the mix, and it may leave some HR staff shivering in their boots.

Let’s face it, it’s hard to find someone who is trustworthy, patient, knowledgeable within the specific field, and empowered to create and build upon the concepts of lean.

Hiring a lean leader is difficult. However, it is not an impossible task.

Let’s break the hiring process down into a few smaller, more digestible pieces:

Leadership Qualities Interview

While anyone can make their skills look good on paper, it is a completely different task when it comes to demonstrating those skills during an interview.

Many interviewers can tell fairly quickly if a candidate may or may not be a good fit for a company even after just a few questions.

However, what happens when you encounter those candidates that seem almost too good to be true?

They answer every question with ease, seem confident in their skills, and almost ooze the desired lean leadership qualities.

Here are some tips to help decipher whether a possible candidate is just talking the talk and if they can also truly walk the walk:

1. Know the Lean Vocabulary

Any candidate can throw around terms like lean, Kaizen, six sigma, muda, 5S, etc. In fact, many times job candidates will simply exaggerate their lean understanding by using specific vocabulary terms.

To weed out the fakes, the interviewers also need to know common lean vocabulary terms and their meanings as well.

This way, the interviewer can ask such questions as, “What do you consider to be more effective, implementation of 5S or starting a six sigma plan?”

2. Ask Qualifying Questions

It is common practice to often ask a candidate to share their experience with something specific such as lean. While it may be good to ask a question like this to gain a better understanding of the candidates past experiences, it does not truly elicit their understanding of lean.

In addition, certain qualifying questions should also be asked.

For instance, it may be beneficial to give the candidate a few minutes to read a specific news article or story regarding lean management, and then ask them to elaborate on how lean helped or made a positive impact on the company they read about.

3. Don’t Forget About Personality

It’s unfortunate, but there are many times when personality is overlooked during an interview. A candidate’s personality is basically a window into their motivations, enthusiasm, and overall work ethic.

Related:  Servant Leadership - Whole Person Inventory

If a candidate seems a little too laid back, chances are pretty high that they will also take on a submissive or laid back position as a lean leader as well.

On the other hand, if a candidate seems too intrusive, their over-the-top personality will also be apparent during their leadership tasks as well.

To create a successful lean mission, the chosen lean leader must be able to mesh well with others and know when to listen, when to teach, and when to learn.

4. Choosing the Right Candidate

When a candidate demonstrates the expertise and skills necessary to truly be a lean leader within your business, it may be beneficial to invite them back to take a tour of the business facility.

Whether you believe it or not, a simple tour or walk through can tell you a lot about a person.

During the walk through, observe the candidate and how they interact with staff. Are they friendly and do they seem to be already looking for possible solutions to current processes?

A good lean leader will be friendly to others and will also be biting at the bit to just get out there and make positive changes.

Do not settle and just hire someone to simply fill an open position. This is one of the biggest mistakes a business can make when it comes to implementing successful lean leadership.

For a lean leader to be beneficial to a company, they must be capable of handling their responsibilities as well as be willing and able to make the needed changes.

How Can You Look for Lean Leadership Qualities?

If you have ideas that you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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Tony Ferraro
On behalf of Creative Safety Supply based in Portland, OR, Tony strives to provide helpful information to create safer and more efficient industrial work environments. His knowledge base focuses primarily on practices such as 5S, Six Sigma, Kaizen, and the Lean mindset. Tony believes in being proactive and that for positive change to happen, we must be willing to be transparent and actively seek out areas in need of improvement.

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