Leadership, Leading People Series, Lean and Continuous Improvement

Leading People Series – Part 3 – Undercover Boss?

Leading People Series – Part 3

People modelIn the Leading People Series, we’ll examine some key points to consider when leading people.  Part 3 is about how important going and seeing what is going on, or not going on as the case may be, is so important when leading people.

Do you need to be an “Undercover Boss” to learn what is happening in your organization?  No!  Many people think that “go & see”, or as often referred within operations as “gemba”, is a manufacturing only tool.  I think that is a big mistake!  I believe that “go & see” is a leader’s most important tool and in fact, I think it is the secret weapon!  When I say secret, I don’t mean like on the “Undercover Boss” TV reality show where the leader pretends to be someone else in order to almost deviously figure out what’s going on in their organization.  What I mean is, that go & see is an extremely effective tool for a leader to truly understand what is happening in their organization, see the challenges their team is facing, demonstrate support by removing barriers, while providing coaching and empowerment to their teams.

Although there are all kinds of “how to” have an effective go & see or gemba, just start by going to see the process of interest, regardless what it is.  Go and see it with your own eyes whether it be an administrative function, physical process a team member has to perform, customer facing interaction, user interface, spreadsheet, location of an incident, whatever the situation, just go.  Just watch for several minutes or cycles to see the abnormalities and ups/downs of it while asking questions to understand.  Start with that, what you have to do next will become clear.

Go & see is to engage with your team by showing an interest in what they do, how they do it and to assist them in being successful at it.   Our teams come to work and want to do a good job and it is a leader’s job to help remove the barriers that get in the way of our teams doing the best job they can. Over time, waste and inefficiencies seem to creep in or inadvertently get added that can cause safety, quality, productivity, or cost issues. By going and seeing, a leader is more likely to find these wastes and inefficiencies and can take action with their teams to correct them.

“Like” if you regularly use go & see as part of your leadership toolbox.


For more information on go & see or gemba check out these posts:

10 Important Steps of Effective Gemba Walks or “Go See”

Gemba Walks – Tip #1

Gemba Walks – Tip #2

The best place for a meeting… is on the roof!

Teaching your eyes to see

3 Steps to Having Time for Gemba

A Leader’s Best Question

Gemba by any other name is… go & see! Gemba is NOT just for manufacturing processes!



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