Note: If you want to take your leadership to a whole new level, continue reading.
In the world of lean there’s a theory promoted by many consultants and skilled continuous improvement managers called “The Theory of Constraints.” The theory basically states that there’s always a constraint in a system or company that limits output results. To increase the output, focus on fixing or improving the biggest constraint. Typically, this theory focusses on improving the limitations caused by equipment, people, or policies.
In simple terms, the theory of constraints is about improving the bottleneck.
This is all very good, and I have a different view of the theory of constraints.
In my experience, the biggest constraint is never the process. The biggest constraint is actually ME.
Why do I say this? I say this because I recognize that whenever I am in a leadership role, I am the biggest barrier to transformation and improvement. Sure, there may be a bottleneck in the process, but I am the one holding back myself (and others) from improving it.
- I cannot blame the process, because I’m the one who’s blind to the problem, or reluctant to improve it.
- I cannot blame the company culture, because as a leader I’m the one who establishes culture. What I model is the standard. If I don’t like the de facto standard, then I need to lead differently.
- I cannot blame others, because all I can do is change myself anyway. And I’m in charge.
- The list goes on…
You see, there could very well be a massive constraint in your organization. But until you have the humility to see it for what it is and the tenacity to do something about it, the biggest constraint isn’t actually the process. The biggest constraint is you.
As a leader you either enable possibilities or stifle them.
For an example, imagine you’re about to walk into a room full of other people. There’s untapped potential in the room inside each person. The room is pregnant with possibility.
When you–a leader–walk into the room, the best thing you can do is simply not be the constraint and limit what’s possible.
The best leaders in the world and great leaders because they aren’t the limiting factor in their organization. They take a very low posture–so low and humble that there’s as little resistance as possible. Then power and continuous improvement flows.
So if you’re troubleshooting a problem, trying to create a continuous improvement culture, or engage your people, I suggest you take a view more inward and ask yourself, “What is it inside me that is causing X to happen, or preventing Y from taking place?” Then change.
This is how you take your leadership to a new level.