Ten years ago a man from Japan attended our course in positive leadership. He was one of the most intense students I have ever taught. He drank in every concept and regularly pumped us for greater understanding. Recently he spent the week in the same program as a coach. At one point, I called on him to tell his story.
He told our participants that he returned to the plant where he works in China. He posted the key concepts on his office wall. He set goals and created Excel sheets to measure his progress. He described the experiments he ran and the things he learned. He ended by saying, “Today you can ask anyone who works for me or with me and they will tell you I am a totally positive leader.”
I love this account. It illustrates that executives can return to their organizations, apply what they have been taught, and become positive leaders.
The story, however, does not end there. In private, my friend told me about a new plant manager who entered his office and immediately noticed the diagrams and plans for improvement. He pumped my friend for information and became a student of positive leadership. Over the next year, he transformed his plant.
My friend gave me many examples of what the plant managers did. I will share one.
The plant makes wheels. The plant manager asked some engineers to calculate how much their carbon footprint shrink if every wheel were one ounce lighter. They calculated the numbers and shared this with the workforce. No one cared.
Instead of quitting, the plant manager embraced the challenge. Later he ask for a new calculation. How many days of smog would they eliminate if they accomplished the change? He gave the answer to the workforce and something important happened. People told their families and friends that because of the change they were making, the city would have 33 less days of smog. The workforce became fully engaged, the change process moved ahead. A leader brought purpose to his people and his people brought purpose to their work.
- Why do some people attend a course and then become positive leaders while some others do not?
- What were the secondary impacts of becoming a positive leader?
- Why did the weight of the wheels drop?
- How could we use this passage to create a more positive organization?