Being a Female Leader in Manufacturing
I can still remember that phone call from the President of U.S. Axle, a high quality manufacturing company located in Pottstown, who wanted to build a team of transformational leaders. But he had a concern. One of his most valued and talented employees seemed to be at a crossroads in her professional life. This impasse was affecting her job performance, employee engagement and overall satisfaction. He believed that coaching would be an effective strategy to develop U.S. Axle’s human capital.
I was excited to meet Debbie Kurtz and even more fascinated to learn more about her as a human being. I quickly discovered that Debbie had lost her joy for work. Through our conversation, I assessed that Debbie needed a spiritual leadership boot camp.
Leadership is not about personality; it’s about behavior (or a set of practices) — an observable set of skills and abilities.
If you want to become more effective in your leadership, you must continually practice and improve both your outer game and inner game.
That requires a boot camp regime to challenge your thinking, create change and become more fit to lead. Leadership also calls forth your highest and best self; and that’s spiritual.
I knew this process would help Debbie expand what she thought was possible for herself and her work.
Here are the five essential leadership practices used to guide Debbie toward her personal best.
In the book, On Becoming a Leader, Warren Bennis writes: “Leaders are made, not born, and made more by themselves than by any external means.” Early in our coaching partnership, Debbie worked on clarifying her life purpose and identifying what matters most to her in her personal life and work life. It became evident that leading at U.S. Axle was synonymous with becoming her best self.
This practice translates purpose into a vision of our desired future. Debbie focused on creating a personal vision of greatness and also one for U.S. Axle. She began showing up at leadership meetings with confidence, presence and empathy. She wanted her contributions at meetings or on daily gemba walks through the plant to be meaningful.
Knowing Your Doubts and Fears
There is a natural feeling to allow our assumptions to magnify our doubts and fears. In our coaching sessions, Debbie would reflect on her week’s behaviors that were inconsistent with the person she wanted to be. I’d challenge her thinking and she would design new actions to align her leadership and dispel fears.
Engage in Authentic, Courageous Dialogue
There is no safe way to be a great leader. I often noticed Debbie’s willingness to bring up difficult issues and be courageous to have honest conversations with her colleagues. She was committed to her company’s greater vision than her own fears.
Develop Intuition, Open to Inspiration
Intuition is the practice of opening to a deeper knowing, a higher sensory perception, a calling or inner voice. Frequently, Debbie would lean into her inner voice for guidance and reassurance to move toward her leadership capacity. Her spiritual faith gave her wisdom, stamina, and inspiration to know what she truly wanted to achieve — finding joy in every day.
There is no safe way to be great and no shortcut to greatness. Bootcamp is often required. Practice is ongoing and non-negotiable to the path of mastering leadership. Interested in becoming a better leader? Click here to schedule a complimentary consultation.