The 10 Commandments of Manufacturing Leadership (Works for other businesses too!)


I met with an amazing group of leaders this week in Maine…


Joe Hyatt, Jim Chadbourne and John Schafer are all executives at Rubb Building Systems. They build fabric structures including aircraft hangars, storage, sports and military facilities.


I say they’re amazing because these three people are truly SENSEI LEADERS.


I don’t usually go to first meeting with any expectations. My goal is really just to learn and understand what needs, interests and goals leaders have. I want to learn about the challenges they face and especially how they respond to those challenges.


Rubb is a construction and manufacturing business. You might think these guys would be all about the numbers, technical specs and dollars and cents. Our entire conversation centered on human-centric leadership––how this team serves the people on the front lines who make this company successful.


At one point John shared a handout with me. It was his “10 Commandments of Manufacturing Leadership.”


I have to say I was humbled when he asked for my opinion. After a quick read of his paper, I could tell we were singing in perfect harmony.


John has graciously given us permission to share his 10 Commandments with you! I’m sure you’ll find them useful in your leadership practice––no matter what business you’re in!


The 10 Commandments of Manufacturing Leadership…


1st Commandment - Be accountable, no excuses

Winning begins with accountability. It’s an absolute requirement for success. You have to front load accountability with clear expectations.


2nd Commandment - Never be a victim

Change is hard. Don’t be afraid of it. We are empowered to take charge of it…and to control it.


3rd Commandment - Plan your work, work your plan

Set clear expectations that are aligned with company goals for you and your folks. Continuously measure your department’s performance against the plan.


4th Commandment - Any task will expand to the time allowed

That’s why you have to establish clear goals for your folks. And let them know they are accountable for meeting expectations.


5th Commandment - Never walk by a discrepancy

Address poor performance as soon as possible. And resolve conflicts when they occur.


6th Commandment - Go direct

Face to face is best. And don’t hide behind an email. Communication should be open, honest and respectful.


7th Commandment - Consensus is unanimous

Disagreements are healthy and it’s OK to disagree. But once a decision is made, it’s up to all of us to support it.


8th Commandment - Heroes are the folks that punch a clock

You are nothing if your folks aren’t behind you. Continuously build and enhance their self-esteem.


9th Commandment - You are doing your job when the “good guys” love you and the “bad guys” hate you

Model the behavior that you seek.


10th Commandment - Work hard. Trust and support each other

Learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses. And remember…talking shit about someone (or the company) says more about you than you you’re talking about.


These are all powerful “commandments.” I just want to emphasize a few. I especially love 6, 8, and 9…


“Go direct.”


It sometimes seems these days that face to face interaction is a dying art! At every workshop we hear about how difficult it is to find time for personal contact––or how hard it is to have a difficult conversation face to face. Well, courage isn’t the absence of fear! The absence of fear is stupidity! Find the time and when necessary, the courage and be sure to give your people the attention they need and deserve––face to face.


Or as we like to say around here, “Don’t be an Undercover Boss!”


“Heroes are the folks that punch a clock.”


Amen, amen––amen. John hits it out of the park with this one. Your success as a leader is measured by one thing and one thing only: The success of the people you serve.


Enough said.


From the 9th: “Model the behavior you seek.”


Amen again! In perfect harmony with one of our key SENSEI LEADER STRATEGIES:


“Lead by example!”


Model the behavior you expect from others.


And always remember. People follow examples much more enthusiastically than orders.


Thank You John Schafer for sharing your Commandments with us! My advice is that you “print & post” these on your bulletin boards…


And be sure to give John full credit! (He didn't want it––but he deserves it!)

© 2019 by Black Belt Mindset Productions and Jim Bouchard