Even if you are not a fan of work with a serious message being presented in novel form, such as The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt and Jeff Cox, Lead With Respect is worth your attention.
Respect for People is a key Lean principle, and yet when expressed in an academic sense the concept can fail to communicate some very important aspects of the concept. Respect is an easy term to misunderstand, or if you choose, to misrepresent. ‘Respect for the Individual’ was one of the three corporate principles decreed by Thomas Watson, Sr. in 1914. By the time Lou Gerstner became CEO 1993 respect for the individual had devolved to become permission in the then consensus-driven IBM for the individual to block actions that did not personally suit them.
By providing a story in novel form, Ballé and Ballé take advantage of the opportunity to model respect for people (as opposed to the individual). Seeing how the main characters in the story struggle with applying this concept of respect helps the reader more fully understand the complexities of this topic.
Key to leading with respect is understanding the importance of developing people in the enterprise, engaging everyone in problem solving within a continuous improvement culture. Respect is not simply about being polite. It is about challenging people to grow, developing a level of autonomy, and the ability to analyze and solve problems. Leaders don’t solve problems, they coach others to understand how to succeed at their jobs and in their careers, ultimately working together to align personal success with creating the value customers expect.
The book is written in a manner that allows it to be easily understood. It’s a relatively quick read and a worthwhile investment of your time.