Leadership is the new Management in manufacturing


As the manufacturing sector continues to face increasing pressures and challenges, it is becoming more evident that companies are seeing leadership as a critical factor to their future success.

With product innovation, cost competitiveness, lean manufacturing, efficiency improvements and streamlining of processes all key areas of focus for manufacturing companies these days, none of this would be possible to achieve without strong leadership.

What makes a good leader?

When discussing leadership with candidates there are several common themes that resinate.

  • Good leaders have vision and they know how to inspire, engage and connect with people, to get them excited about that vision.
  • Good leaders know how to make people feel that their opinions and input are valued as part of decision making.
  • Good leaders know how to bring people on a journey.

This leadership focus is being reflected in site management structures. Companies using the word leader in position titles, as opposed to the word manager and they are now referring to the Site Management Team as the Site Leadership Team.

In dealing with clients, it is becoming increasingly obvious that manufacturing companies in Australia are looking for candidates they consider leaders rather than simply managers. Whilst they still need people who are good managers, process-driven and operationally focused, many more of them are now looking for leaders; candidates who can sell a vision. Importantly, good leaders know how to surround themselves with the right technical people to achieve their vision.

Manufacturing operations need to focus on recruiting people with leadership qualities. Recruiters and top management need to get better at identifying people with strong leadership qualities during the recruitment processes. It is also important for businesses to invest in their current and future leaders through development opportunities and mentoring.