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Book Review - LEVEL 5 Leadership At Work


As these words were coming from my boss's mouth, all I could think was "piece of cake." I had already created a recipe for success, so implementing this in other areas was going to be simple. Besides, my team had achieved such huge gains, I couldn't imagine how anyone else would not want to copy exactly what we did.

Within two weeks, I realized I could not have been more wrong. Not only were my colleagues unreceptive to our program, many were taking my "Call to Change" as a personal insult. I did not know it then, but I was in true need of a book that had the solutions to my problems - Level 5 Leadership At Work.

Level 5 Leadership At Work is the second installment of the Heroic Change series created by Winston Ledet, Michelle Ledet Henley, and Sherri M. Abshire. The book is written in a novel format that easy to read and impossible to put down. While the story takes place in a fictitious manufacturing company, everyone who reads the book can make a direct connection to the obstacles they are currently facing in their own organization.

In the first installment, Don't Just Fix It, Improve It, plant manager James Emery had incredible success changing the quality, safety, and culture of his plant by empowering the workforce to focus on Defect Elimination. He did such a good job, that he was promoted to the role of Corporate Reliability Champion. In his new role, he was to take what he learned at his site and use it to gain the same success at every other site in the company.

Just as I had learned the hard way, James also finds out that people are not very receptive to a "Call for Change." Not only did he have to deal with egotistical plant managers, he had to go against competing initiatives, such as Six Sigma and Standardized Operations. In a few instances, he actually had sites that were willing to change. Unfortunately, they either lacked the leadership skills or the business urgency to make it happen.

James comes to realize that there is no cookie-cutter approach to implementation. Given the different financial and cultural situations at each site, there is no way for him to dictate the details of the Don't Just Fix, Improve It mentality. Rather, he needs to develop a set of non-negotiable principles that each site can leverage and at the same time, maintain its sense of ownership.

As James moves forward on this journey, he discovers the most important element needed for change is "Level 5 Leadership." As you read this book, I challenge you to find out if you have the qualities of a Level 5 Leader. Are you willing to empower your employees? Do you have no fear of losing power and authority? Are you willing to put the success of the site in front of your own glory? In other words, are you willing to "check your ego at the door?"

Level 5 Leadership At Work and the first book in the series: Don't Just Fix It, Impove It! can be purchased at

Winston and his co-authors are currently hard at work on the next book in the Heroic Change series.

authorGeorge Mahoney has worked in almost every facet of maintenance and engineering over the past 10 years. He currently acts as a mentor, sponsor and instructor for Lean Six Sigma.

authorWinston Ledet has 27 years of experience with E.I. DuPont de Nemours. He is one of the creators of The Manufacturing Game and has his own consulting firm, Ledet Enterprises, Inc.

authorMichelle Ledet Henley has worked with The Manufacturing Game since 1998 as a developer of new simulations and training material.

authorSherri M. Abshire has been an employee of Ledet Enterprises since 2001. Sherri works closely with the company president, Winston P. Ledet, on numerous writing, research and development projects.

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