Here's a great story about a VP transforming their leadership style. If you're in the manufacturing world, do yourself a favor and read the linked blog post while picturing your own environment, rather than picturing the Group Health Cooperative. I think this story is relevant to any Lean efforts, don't think of this as a “hospital story,” it's a leadership story.
I was really surprised a couple of months ago when he came to our area and started asking us questions about our work. I figured something must be up, but he was asking good questions. I was even more surprised when he showed up again and remembered almost everything we told him and then started asking more questions about our improvement. Last week when he came by the entire team was so excited to show him how far we have come. I really like him now.'
For the criticisms and blame focused on middle management (in places like the LEI survey), here's a case of someone taking their leadership approach to heart and making changes. I've always seen too many managers staying their offices or meetings, not engaging with their employees and their processes for one reason or another — abdicating their leadership role, really.
I'm hoping to publish results of my own survey on “lean obstacles” real soon, stay tuned.