“People see who you are—even if you don’t!”

That’s one of the favorite sayings of John Raymer, a recent guest on my Mindfulness Manufacturing podcast. In this episode, John shared some great insights learned from his 28-year-career with Toyota Motor Manufacturing, especially about how manufacturing leaders can identify problems in their organizations by looking closely at themselves and their behavior. Drawing on his own experiences—and his own mistakes—he also talked about four key characteristics of great workplace leaders.

Key Characteristic #1: Humility

When leaders act like they’re better than others, the result is low productivity and low morale. As a leader, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you’re super-human or that you can succeed without the opinions and insights of those below you. However, it can backfire. If your employees believe that you think lesser of them, then their productivity will reflect that. After all, if you show you don’t value them, why should they work harder to prove themselves to you? By practicing humility through valuing the expertise and experience of others, you can retain employees, boost morale, and set positive expectations for everyone on your team.

Key Characteristic #2: Integrity

Would you want to work with someone who talked behind your back, lied to you, or consistently failed to respect your views? Of course not . . . and your team members don’t either! This is why it’s always important to act with integrity. If you show that you’re disingenuous or disparaging to others, it makes it difficult for them to see you as someone they respect. This can cause them to avoid you, fail to seek your advice, or shy away from offering their insights, even when they have something valuable to say. To improve your integrity, think about your behaviors and the consequences of your actions. Consider the effect of even something seemingly innocent, like sharing gossip about a colleague. If you do make a mistake, introspection and a public apology can go a long way.

Key Characteristic #3: Empathy

When you work in an organization with others, it’s highly likely that you don’t know the everyday struggles of everyone, including people on your own team. Outside of the workplace, they may be dealing with various hardships. They might be struggling with the death of a loved one, facing a medical issue, or going through a time of financial difficulty. To be an effective and compassionate leader, invest in your relationships. Take time to learn about others and the issues they’re facing. This is especially critical if those issues impact their productivity or morale at work. By showing your empathy and acknowledging that your employees have their own lives, you can become a more effective leader and create a healthier workplace for all.

Key Characteristic #4: Challenge

The last key characteristic John Raymer discussed in his podcast was “challenge.” When a leader comes across as tired, defeated, or simply unmotivating, it has a trickle-down effect for the rest of the organization. For example, if a leader shows that they’re not unenthusiastic about a recent success, it makes their team members feel like their hard work wasn’t worth the time or effort. On the other hand, a leader who shows up, challenges their team to achieve greater success, and acknowledge everyone’s role inspires others to step up, too. To be a great leader who motivates and challenges your team, you have to first start with yourself and your own behavior.

Learn More on the Podcast

In the recent podcast, John delves even deeper into these four characteristics and shares some honest, thought-provoking stories from his own background. To listen to the Mindfulness Manufacturing podcast and learn more, check it out here.

Contact Trevor today to get a spot in his next program!

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