There were many lessons at the recent Lean Construction Institute Congress in Orlando. Thank you to all the presenters who discussed what they have been learning, and to the participants in the Creating Transformational Legacy workshop Joanna McGuffey and I facilitated on Tuesday. My wish for you is that you learned more about yourself and have made the time to reflect on how who you are connects to your purpose. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from you.

Wednesday Congress participants had an opportunity to witness the importance of being authentic. David Marquet recounted his response to making a command error resulting from training to lead a submarine type different than the one to which he was assigned. Often when leaders make these kind of mistakes they exert their authority more stridently to meet an expectation that leaders need to appear fully in control. His contrary choice was to be authentic about his level of preparedness to command that submarine type, and as a result learned important leadership lessons he was able to present to the Congress.

Thursday Jim Kelly spoke about his successes and challenges. He spent most of his life working hard for the approval of family and friends, experiencing significant successes and setbacks on a large and public stage, including the devastating loss of his son. It was when he decided to be his authentic self rather than seek approval that he was able to redeem his life and bring himself into a close relationship with his family. His is a powerful story.

Being authentic, which starts with knowing who you are at your core, matters in lean work. Lean practices require the following:

  • Being committed and connected to a challenging purpose
  • Making reliable commitments that allow work to flow
  • Nurturing relationships at work, through coaching and collaboration
  • Fueling a hunger for learning, improvement and innovation

The above is very difficult when we are expected to be someone we are not, whether due to the expectations of our position or the desire for approval. This is because assuming an imposed identity requires significant energy, depleting us of the energy available for the discipline of lean work. Only by acting in an authentic way aligned with our core identity can we focus our energy in a disciplined way, especially on the tough days. And we all have tough days.

Lean work requires discipline. Discipline requires energy. Having energy available to us requires authenticity.