Before we build Cars, we build People

The ninth principle of the Toyota Way is:

Grow leaders who thoroughly understand the work, live the philosophy, and teach it to others.

Toyota never “pirates” Presidents or CEOs from other companies. Instead, the company looks for its key leaders within the organization – in sales, product development, manufacturing and design. Toyota’s philosophy of promoting and acquiring mid- to top-level executives within the company stems from the company’s belief that they are eliminating unevenness at the executive level.

A common phrase heard around Toyota is “Before we build cars, we build people.” The leader’s goal at Toyota is to develop people so they are strong contributors who can think and follow the Toyota Way at all levels in the organization. The leader’s real challenge is having the long-term vision of knowing what to do, the knowledge of how to do it, and the ability to develop people so they can understand and do their job excellently.

The payoff for this dedication is more profound and lasting to a company’s competitiveness and longevity than using a leader merely to solve immediate financial problems, make the correct decision for a given situation, or provide new short-term solutions to bail a company out of a bad situation. A company growing its own leaders and defining the ultimate role of leadership as “building a learning organization” lays the groundwork for genuine long-term success.

Summing-up: A good leader must understand the daily work in great detail so he or she can be the best teacher of your company’s philosophy. Grow leaders from within the organization rather than getting them from outside.

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