10 Ways that Kaizen Develops Better Leaders


  1. Attention. The leader well-heeled in kaizen notices the small things and is bothered by them if they seem abnormal.
  2. Vision. The practice of kaizen gives a leader an idea of what is possible, an image of the ideal, enabling long-term thinking instead of a focus on the nearest alligator of daily firefighting.
  3. Insight into the business is developed through reflection on problems, their root causes and how to solve them.
  4. Teamwork is part and parcel of leadership that is strengthened by effectively facilitating kaizen events or coaching others on turning their ideas into reality through suggestion schemes.
  5. Advancing your team member’s careers by walking along side them on their learning journey, mentoring them and keeping them from wavering on the path of the creative thinking process is also a leadership habit kaizen develops.
  6. Linking the impact of many small, practical improvements requires that the up and coming leader become more familiar in the financial language and formulas of her company, despite its limitations, in order to link these actions to the top level management agenda.
  7. Clarity in the mind of the leader well-heeled is developed through observation during kaizen activity, resulting high situational awareness that is not easily distracted by misdirection, but able to focus on eliminating waste, variation and overburden systematically.
  8. Respect. Kaizen teaches respect for people, time, resources, and differences in viewpoint, all qualities of an effective leader.
  9. Objectivity is the ability to face and manage by fact and kaizen develops this in a leader by requiring them to practice genchi genbutsu, by checking one’s assumptions by testing them through experimentation, and turning the PDCA cycle.
  10. Connections are built between internal customer-supplier relationships, making stronger personal relationships as well as a stronger organization through kaizen.

Attention to detail: if you have it, you may notice a thing or two in this article hidden in plain view.


  1. alex kubi

    February 17, 2009 - 7:52 am

    Jon, I saw this coming, this fuses well with the question on how to arrive at the ‘Vital few’?
    In the same strength what you are describing here is what Accenture call developing ‘Distinctive Capabilities’ one of the three building block of ‘High Performance’.
    Toyota has developed ‘Distinctive Capabilities’ that with time, its own business algorithms, is not easy to copy. Because it is deeply embedded in the people behind Toyota as a brand.
    In summary for one to become an effective leader, one need to practice, if not mastering the ten habits. I use the word ‘habits, because one need to develop them if he/she do not have them.
    On mastering the 10 Ways, you would probably achieve a black belt in Six Sigma circles. In simpler terms develop skills that differentiate you from the others, them multiply by coaching others to do the same. Jon I am happy at last you have given me the items I needed to complete the ‘Vital Few’ training.
    …a leaders with ‘distinctive capabilities’…to lead a team to lean implementation there after the organization become a high performer

  2. Artan Resuli

    May 15, 2009 - 2:45 am

    Thank You for the great stuf that offer to uss by Gembapantarei.
    What I`ve noticed is ” A VITAL CROCK ”
    Am I right.
    Best wishes

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