What does it take to be a world class manufacturing leader?

At Talisman Executive we have supported many manufacturing organisations in finding and attracting specialists and leaders who have the skills, knowledge and personal approach required to modernise systems, processes and attitudes that in turn move organisations towards a world-class standard. The lean journey is just that; A journey. It isn’t a destination. Different companies, and industries for that matter, are at various stages on that journey. Many are well advanced on their Lean Manufacturing journey and have been applying “Lean” techniques across their production operations for many years now. Most of them have reduced their costs. Many of them have radically increased their productivity. Many of them have engaged their employees and some of them have sustained a culture of Continuous Improvement (CI).

But it all came at a cost. As with all change the transition can be painful. Substantial organisational challenges await any business setting out on the Lean journey. But with so many case studies available for scrutiny we are able to clearly understand what it takes to make that transition as painless as possible. Inevitably it all comes down to leadership. World class businesses have world class leaders. So what does it take to lead a successful world class manufacturing business? Well here’s what we think……

The leaders of world class manufacturers are highly driven; they need to be the best in the world at what they do. They have high expectations. They create a strong sense of urgency and they inspire the right people to join them on the journey. They understand that you don’t have to invent anything new and different in order to be world class. What you have to do is build a value chain that delivers unique value in a different way.
Here are some of the things that unite them:

Sense of Purpose

They communicate the purpose of the organisation in a way that is meaningful

Peak Performance

They inspire people to perform at their best and they do not tolerate mediocrity

A Passion for Progress

They are personally invested in what they do – they get fired up and it’s contagious


They create streamlined processes that deliver outstanding and unique value to their customers


They get the right people on the bench; they expect to make some people uncomfortable

One thing that has always stood the test of time is that companies, no matter what they do, will only ever achieve their full potential if they have the right people pulling the levers. Common purpose across leadership in a continuous improvement setting is contagious. Our advice to any company that is setting out on the Lean journey is that it starts with a people, not processes. Crucially, they must be the right ones.

Talisman Executive has a rich and proud history of finding and attracting the next generation of leadership talent across a broad range of manufacturing environments. Getting it right, first time, every time is what we do.