Have you been 'leaned'?

It is a little worrying when people tell us that they have been ‘leaned’. Sometimes just a figure of speech, and often used positively to be fair, but it does have a strong whiff of ‘done to’ rather than ‘done with’ the team.


In a previous article we talked about change and the effect it has on people.  Some people love change whilst others declare that they don’t.  On reflection, the point of view is not about whether you like change or not but more about how much control and influence you have in the change.  Those who steer the change or have a greater influence tend to be far more in support of it.

During large scale transformative change it is essential that we think about this effect.  Often the major reason for change is driven by factors outside of the individuals control. Market forces, expansion, budget cuts, all typical in today’s world and often even the highest-level leaders are not able to influence these elements so how can we engage teams and help them to feel in control?  How do we help them to not feel ‘leaned’ in the negative way?

The answer can lie in the cascade of direction from the top.  Leaders who respond (proactively or otherwise) to the needs of their organisation can set direction – ‘What we need to do’ and empower their teams to create the answer – ‘How we need to do it’. In this way it is completely feasible to ensure that those that could feel like the change is done to them can feel empowered and engaged.

Creating a deployed set of goals in a structured way to steer the organisation and then equipping teams with the tools to solve is the strongest way to avoid that feeling of helplessness. An otherwise negative workforce can become positive and take the organisation to newer levels than ever thought before.  We see this time and time again as companies tap into the collective brainpower and imagination of their teams – often with incredible results.

These people have not been ‘leaned’ they have become part of a lean organisation.