Q&A with Lean Leadership Expert Jamie V. Parker

New managers often learn the ins and outs of team leadership while on the job. Now, those new to leading or just looking to improve their management skills can do so with the Leadership Skills for New Supervisors course available in the iLearning Center. We talked with Lean leadership expert and course instructor Jamie V. Parker to get an insider look at what students of the course can expect.

PIA: Who is the ideal candidate to take the Leadership Skills for News Supervisors course?

JP: Most folks promoted into leadership roles know a lot about their department and have strong tactical skills, but they're often left with limited exposure to the leadership skills their new role will require. This course teaches leadership tools to use every day so you can better support your team--and together deliver better results.

While the course was designed for new supervisors, the reality is that many longtime, tenured leaders have an opportunity to improve their leadership by employing the techniques taught in this course as well.

PIA: What motivated you to come up with a course focused on the skills needed for new leaders?

JP: Frontline leaders play a critical role in our organizations. They have direct interaction with team members every day and are poised to have a tremendous impact on company culture and performance. Because of the urgency and importance of the work frontline leaders do, they are often thrown right into the deep end and are forced to figure things out as they go.

Many senior leaders are given development opportunities. They attend conferences and workshops and sometimes hire executive coaches. But our frontline leaders usually don't have access to this type of development. I wanted to do my part to help change that.

PIA: Why are Lean leadership principles so important for managers to adopt?

JP: Lean leadership is based on two key pillars: respect for people and continuous improvement. Respect for people is more than just common courtesy. It's an appreciation for the gifts people bring to our organizations and an understanding that business is personal.

In continuous improvement, we work with our teams to actively improve every day. It's more than just trying to hit metrics and performance output. It's improving the work--making our work processes easier and better every day. It's an active position, not a passive one.

When we truly embrace these foundational principles in our management approach and everyday work, we are able to unleash the potential in people and achieve much more than we ever could in a traditional command-and-control approach.

PIA: Of the five primary leadership pillars covered in the course, which is your favorite to cover? Why?

JP: My favorite leadership role to cover is "Direct," particularly the skill of giving reinforcing feedback. First, it's the easiest skill to learn and apply--not just because it's a simple four-part formula, but because it's positive. It feels good to recognize people. When I teach this skill, most people are going to go back to their work and actually do it. This has a tremendous impact. Every time I work with clients on implementing this practice, they come back with wins that wow me.

Often, we recognize team members and say "thank you" and "great job" already. But because we're not using all four parts of the feedback formula, it's just not as effective as it could be. So, reinforcing feedback is a secret weapon. It's super easy to do and gives you a huge return on investment.

PIA: What can students of the course expect to walk away with upon completion?

JP: We cover things like impact listening, giving effective feedback, teaching new skills, and asking good coaching questions. These are the foundational skills that every leader needs to master. Skills like conflict management, performance management, negotiation, and other advanced skills build off of these.

After you go through the course, you may want to go back and pick a specific skill to focus on for the quarter. I'd encourage students to find an accountability buddy--someone else who's going through the course--to help support each other's learning and also to apply your skills.


Leadership Skills for New Supervisors is available to PIA members for $99 and non-members for $199. Learn more and register today at printing.org/leadership.