What Bad Managers, Good Managers, and Great Managers Do

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Today's post is something that I wrote for a broader LinkedIn audience, but might have meaning and significance to my Lean readers:

What Bad Managers, Good Managers, and Great Managers Do

You can also read this on Medium.com.

You might particularly enjoy the old blog post I linked to about the “power of why” at NUMMI, compared to my experiences at GM.

Feel free to comment on LinkedIn or here.

Here is picture of mine from a hospital lab… there was a warning label that I've illustrated because it wasn't readable in the picture:

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A bad manager would just say “Do not lean on here!”

A good manager (and sign) explains why.

A great manager might engage people in figuring out how to error proof the system in some way…

Do you have examples of good managers explaining why rules or policies are necessary instead of just forcing things on people in a “command and control” manner? Do you have examples of how you've helped leaders better engage employees in the development of policies, procedures, or standardized work?

What do you think? Please scroll down (or click) to post a comment. Or please share the post with your thoughts on LinkedIn – and follow me or connect with me there.

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. Here is an email that I received from somebody who read this article:

    Worked for Toyota in the past and had the privilege to work under Managers who helped shape me into the Manager I am today.

    I was recently let go by a Manager who believed in yelling and belittling the hard working people on the floor to get his point across. He could not give me a reason why he was letting me go but I believe it was because our management styles clashed.

    The majority of the staff walked out on my boss the day I was let go. They sent me messages thanking me for being the only Manager who ever respected and engaged them in decision making and continuous improvement.

    Toyota had taught me that people come before the cars! If we treat the employees with the respect that they deserve, it will reflect on the end product. Respect of People is value added to any company.

    Thanks for reminding me what a great manager is! I will forever live by this regardless of what some “Bad Manager” thinks!


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