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Leadership often wants to be supportive, but often they don’t know how to be supportive. It can help a great deal to outline specific directions about how to show support. For example, often for a Kaizen Event, I ask a leader to kickoff the session and provide some bullets about what to say:

  • Why it’s important to do
  • What is in it for the participants

Leadership should probably not attend the whole event, especially if people are nervous about their presence and it affects the team dynamic. I also have leadership return on the last day for a stakeholder update. I remind them to be positive and I also ask them to thank everyone at the session. What I find is that leaders are very appreciative of the direction and rarely are they MIA (missing in action).

Tracy O'Rourke

Tracy is a Managing Partner at, the co-author of The Problem-Solver’s Toolkit and co-host of the Just-in-Time Cafe. She is also a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Instructor at UC San Diego and teaches in San Diego State University’s Lean Enterprise Program. For almost 20 years, she has helped leading organizations like Washington State, Charles Schwab and GE build problem-solving muscles.