The Situational Leadership® Model in the Manufacturing Industry

This is the third in a series of blog posts that will highlight our experience with different industries. The first blog examined our partnerships with restaurant, food and beverage organizations, and can be found here. The second reviewed our experience with all things retail and can be found here. The paragraphs that follow will highlight our experience in and with manufacturing.

Let’s start with a definition!

  • Manufacturing is the creation of finished goods using tools, human labor, machines or a chemical process

So, with that as background, the number of organizations around the world that fall under that umbrella is mind-boggling! Manufacturing companies make everything from cosmetics to ceramics to concrete, as well as from farming equipment to footwear to furniture! Out of the hundreds of active CLS customers, around 250 of those are manufacturing entities. And, while there is a wide spectrum of industries and organizations represented in that number, most (if not all) have a unified target in mind when it comes time to employ the Situational Leadership® approach … frontline leaders.

Again, by definition, a frontline leader is someone who has transitioned from a role as an individual contributor at the base of the organization into their first job as a people manager. While this is by no means an exhaustive list, here are the primary challenges and opportunities our customers seek to address when they invest in Situational Leadership® training:

  • Leadership Onboarding – Even though it takes place relatively early in a person’s career, the jump from a job that is largely a function of mastering technical skills to a job that is primarily a function of developing human skills is a huge leap! Ever see a great athlete that was a terrible coach? Unfortunately, that happens … and far too often!Many manufacturing companies position Situational Leadership® training as orientation training for new managers. In that context (and at a minimum), those new managers learn there is no such thing as “a best leadership style.” Each style works … and each style doesn’t! It all depends upon the task that needs to be accomplished, and the ability and willingness of the person or team responsible to get it done!
  • Coaching for Performance – The Situational Leadership® Model provides a language of change and (ultimately) a language of performance! As much or more than any other level in the organization, frontline leaders need to be able to recognize changes that could affect performance and adjust their approach to ensure deadlines are met and outcomes are deliveredLeadership is, has been, and will always be, dynamic! Nothing stays the same! It is either getting better, or it is getting worse. Situational Leaders consistently monitor those dynamics and calibrate their approach as need be
  • Cultivation of High Potentials – Demonstrating mastery of the Situational Leadership® framework as a frontline leader can be (and often is) an indication of greater potential. We are often asked:
    • “How do you measure the impact of your training?”

In general, there are three ways:

    1. Impact of the leader on Productivity. Are results achieved … or not?
    2. Impact of the leader on Engagement. Do employees care … or not?
    3. Impact of the leader on Retention. Do employees stay … or not?

As much or more than any industry we work with, manufacturing organizations measure the impact of the frontline leader, identify future potential and promote accordingly.