Every significant industry in the world must now confront major challenges to their operations due to the ongoing effects of the novel coronavirus. Traditional and once stable supply chains have been disrupted, while some sectors of the economy have all but vanished seemingly overnight.
Manufacturing industries of all types are being sorely tried as well. This environment offers the perfect chance to take a closer look at the essential role of good leadership in helping companies large and small to navigate a safe course through unknown waters.
Leaders in the manufacturing industry who exhibit the following traits are the ones who will be able to help their companies to not just survive this crisis but also emerge poised for future growth.
Leaders in the manufacturing industry must evaluate not only current market conditions but also anticipate where the market demand will be one month or one year in advance. In times of growth, accurate forecasting is used to decide when it’s time to make capital expenditures for new equipment or to invest in new facilities.
But foresight is even more important when anticipating times of contraction or business retrenchment. Wise business leaders who can accurately foresee tough times ahead will take proactive measures well in advance, before they become emergencies. These include saving up a war chest to meet funding shortfalls, implementing lean manufacturing discipline, eliminating waste and training the workforce to be agile.
Any manufacturer, given enough time and practice, can eventually become adept at making a given Product A, and maybe they’ve even done it profitably for years. But what happens when suddenly Product A is no longer wanted or needed? Even worse, what if Product B is now in urgent demand, people turn to your company for a solution, and you’re not ready? If your business processes and your people are mired in inertia and trapped in old ways of thinking then you won’t survive the transition.
But if a leader has prepared their teams to be agile, they will be able to shift gears quickly and efficiently to meet emerging market demands. This happens through communication, when everyone knows their roles and responsibilities while helping one another without ego or competition. Agility is a mindset, a way of thinking that embraces change through constant learning, skills development and cross-training on the shop floor.
No organization, even an agile one, can be all things to all people – nor should it try to be. A lean manufacturer knows how to focus on their core competency and reduce or eliminate any activities that distract from it. Although the mission may change depending on external conditions, once a leader sets a new target then the company’s resources must focus on that goal to the exclusion of all others.
It has always been a risk in the business world that if a company achieves a measure of success in one area, they think it’s just as easy to reproduce that success in another. Seldom does this work out for the best, especially in times of crisis. Rather, true leaders will inspire the workforce to concentrate on the task at hand and set realistic, achievable goals. How best to inspire? By leading with confidence.
Of course we don’t mean the illusion of confidence or false bravado. We mean the calm and steady bearing of leaders who’ve been seasoned by experience and who know their own capacities and strengths. This is evident in the boardroom or the shop floor every bit as much as on the battlefield.
Confident leaders are not cocky. They have a plan, they know the way forward, they are patient and steady in implementing the plan and they don’t get flustered by minor impediments along the way. This is the quality that will pull a manufacturer through tough times, even as it inspires others in the organization to make sacrifices and go beyond the call of duty to see the task through.
During this time, Star Rapid remains committed to providing our trusted partners with the finest rapid prototyping, rapid tooling and low volume manufacturing services. This is our core strength and is backed up by the support of our larger community. Find out how we can meet your needs for critical parts when you upload your CAD files today for a free quotation.