Production Leadership

Production Leadership

Dave Kinnear1-On Leadership

Production Leadership


Back in 2000, John Maxwell authored a book entitled Developing the Leader Within You. In that book, he posited that there are five levels of leadership. He named those levels Position, Permission, Production, People Development, and Pinnacle. In this post, I discuss the third of the five and we will explore the rest over the next several posts.


At the “Production” level, leaders have achieved effectiveness by building and maintaining a high-performing organization. In manufacturing, for instance, the leader has led his workforce to operate with high productivity. In a sales environment, the leader has led his staff to high sales conversions and satisfied customers. These leaders have developed a collective focus on the company’s mission and objectives. Input your text here! The text element is intended for longform copy that could potentially include multiple paragraphs.

Centers of Excellence

True leaders seem to be able to build a center of excellence even in a largely dysfunctional company, becoming a model or guide for the rest of the organization. They manage to accomplish this by leveraging their position and permission leadership to assure that their team delivers results. Leaders at this level and their team are production oriented.

Most people (employees) enjoy being on winning teams. So a production-oriented team that continuously makes their numbers and has fun along the way will be a big draw for high performing individuals–which of course creates a positive feedback system.

Managing Up

While the production-oriented leader is likely to attract high performing individuals, they are often most appreciated by their peers and superiors. They will be able to leverage their delivery performance to gain scarce corporate resources. When it comes time to prune product lines, personnel, or projects, their demonstrated ability to produce results will provide some protection.

The production-oriented leader will be the go-to problem solver for corporate executives and the board. This will ensure a continuous flow of challenging projects for the team. At the same time, it may well afford an opportunity to learn more about other corporate functions during cross-functional work.


Astute leaders also recognize when markets have matured and products are in danger of becoming commoditized and/or obsolete. It is especially critical for the production-oriented leader to make sure that the team and company aren’t trapped by disruptive technological changes and trends. While revenue is still strong and profits are available, the leader will be focused on “what’s next?”

The challenge of balance is not just to keep track of markets and trends to be sure not to forget to properly prune products and/or services. The additional challenge is to make sure that the numbers don’t become the whole reason for existence. Instead, there is the human side of our organizations that are critical to high performing teams. The astute leader will not lose track of that need.