OnPoint Consulting, with the American Management Association, collected data on leader effectiveness in the manufacturing industry. Of 46 competencies, seven differentiate the top performing leaders. The seven success factors include:

  • Action orientation (executing business objectives)
  • Building trust and demonstrating personal accountability (keeping promises and commitments, accepting responsibility)
  • Building teams (encouraging cooperation and coordination within the work unit)
  • Flexibility and agility (adjusting one's behavior to changing circumstances, receptivity to change)
  • Influence (using techniques that appeal to reason, values, or emotion to generate enthusiasm, or commitment)
  • Communication (effectively conveying ideas)
  • Self-confidence (having an accurate sense of one's capabilities without being arrogant)

As the study shows, the most effective leaders are able to balance execution-oriented behaviors with the interpersonal skills required to build trust and cooperation.

What Contributes to a Leader's Potential?
Three competencies differentiated manufacturing leaders who are seen as having potential for more challenging roles: influence, leading change, and critical and analytical thinking.

Influence is not only a differentiator of top performing leaders but it also has a strong impact on the perception of potential. This emphasizes the need for manufacturing leaders to master influencing skills to create alignment and build commitment. OnPoint's research found that the most effective leaders leverage four core tactics to gain commitment and buy-in to their plans: rational persuasion (using facts and logic), inspiration (appealing to values and beliefs), consultation (involving people in “shaping” the idea), and collaboration (decreasing the difficulty of carrying out a request).

While there is no silver bullet to leader effectiveness, it is evident that these competencies set apart the best from the rest. Failure to master these success factors early in one's career may be a derailer. Therefore, it is important that manufacturing organizations structure their development initiatives to focus on these areas.