page title icon Lonnie Wilson

Lonnie Wilson | Sustaining Workforce Engagement

240: Lonnie Wilson: Engagement is a human issue

Lonnie Wilson Show Notes Page

Lonnie Wilson was working with a client on a culture transformation and was staring failure right in the face. Then he received a piece of advice from his Pastor that enabled him to step back and work on guiding the transformation at a much smaller scale to move forward faster.

Lonnie was born in Kellogg, Idaho and spent his formative years, from age 9 to 22 in Spokane WA.

He had a pretty typical family — mom, dad, and 3 sisters. He was the second oldest, however his oldest sister died of cancer at 34, making him the senior sibling.  His two younger sisters are both authors.  His dad died in 1988 at 68, but his mom lives in Spokane and is still perking at 97

His dad was the ultimate do-it-yourself kind of guy; he grew up on a farm and was incredibly capable.  He taught Lonnie a lot about “fixing things” and Lonnie was always working with him on some project around the house.  Lonnie was always a good student so coupling the fixer mentality with some decent academics and he became a chemical engineer.  From there he went on to management and now teaches managers.

Lonnie worked for Chevron for 20 years in refining and had great teachers/coaches/mentors/roll-models in management and personnel development.  While with Chevron he became very interested in Lean Manufacturing and decided to start a second career as a consultant in cultural change.  Now he focuses on not just lean manufacturing but the human side of lean, what Toyota calls “respect for people”.

He’s also the author of Sustaining Workforce Engagement: How to Ensure Your Employees Are Healthy, Happy, and Productive.

Lonnie says his legacy is his kids and his books.  And a whole slew of soccer players he coached over the years who still stop by or write and stay in touch with “Coach”.

Lonnie currently lives in El Paso TX and is married with 4 adult children, the youngest one n college. The other three are married and combined have given Lonnie and his wife Roxana seven grandkids aged 15 to 4 months.Tweetable

Quotes and Mentions

Listen to Lonnie Wilson to get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow Click to Tweet 

“The engagement issue is a human issue. It’s all about people.” Click to Tweet  

“People don’t delegate, they assign.” Click to Tweet  

“A person who delegates well, tells his people what he wants to do and why he wants to do it. He leaves the how to do it, up to them.” Click to Tweet 

“There’s too much micro-management and weak delegation.” Click to Tweet  

“Simplify and humanize your thinking.” Click to Tweet  

“Managers have lost the concept that they’re also supervisors.” Click to Tweet  

“Don’t try to motivate people, they come to work motivated.” Click to Tweet  

“People don’t need to be bribed. What they need to do is have the opportunity to contribute in the workplace.” Click to Tweet  

“Learn to use the intrinsic motivators.” Click to Tweet  

“You can get people to change in the short-term but if you want it sustained, they have to be able to see that you are willing to make the sacrifice.” Click to Tweet  

“If people are looking for metaphors to model the family is a perfect one.” Click to Tweet  

“As you make changes all kinds of sympathetic changes occur.” Click to Tweet  

Hump to Get Over

Lonnie Wilson was working with a client on a culture transformation and was staring failure right in the face. Then he received a piece of advice from his Pastor that enabled him to step back and work on guiding the transformation at a much smaller scale to move forward faster.

Advice for others

Become more empathetic and see into why people are doing what they do.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

I’ve got my own paradigms.

Best Leadership Advice

Be a good role model.

Secret to Success

I work hard and I study hard.

Best tools in business or life

I’d like to think I’m a good role model.

Recommended Reading

Sustaining Workforce Engagement: How to Ensure Your Employees Are Healthy, Happy, and Productive

Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes

The Situational Leader

Motivation to Work

Contacting Lonnie Wilson



Resources and Show Mentions

Call Center Coach

An Even Better Place to Work

Show Transcript: 

[expand title=”Click to access edited transcript”]

240: Lonnie Wilson: Engagement is a human issue


Intro: Welcome to the Fast Leader podcast where we uncover the leadership life hacks that help you to experience breakout performance faster and rocket to success. And now here’s your host customer and employee engagement expert & certified emotional intelligence practitioner, Jim Rembach. 


Call Center coach develops and unites the next generation of call center leaders. Through our e-learning and community individuals gain knowledge and skills and the six core competencies that is the blueprint that develops high-performing call center leaders. Successful supervisors do not just happen. So go to to learn more about enrollment and download your copy of the Supervisor Success Path e-book now. 


Okay, Fast Leader legion, today I’m excited because we’re going to have somebody on this show today who’s going to be able to give us a very, very comprehensive look into workforce engagement. Lonnie Wilson was born in Kellogg, Idaho and spent his formative years from the age of nine to twenty-two in Spokane, Washington. He had a pretty typical family mom, dad, and three sisters. He was the second oldest, however, his oldest sister died of cancer at thirty-four making him the senior sibling. His two younger sisters are both authors and his dad died in 1988 at 68 but his mom lives in Spokane and is still perking in 97. His dad was the ultimate do-it-yourself kind of guy. He grew up on a farm and was incredibly capable. He taught Lonnie a lot about fixing things and Lonnie was also working with him on some project around the house at all times. Lonnie was always a good student so coupling the fixer mentality and some decent academics he became a chemical engineer. From there he went on to management and now teaches managers. 


Lonnie worked for Chevron for 20 years in refining and had great teachers, coaches, mentors role models and management and personnel development. While with Chevron he became very interested in lean manufacturing and decided to start a second career as a consultant and cultural change. Now he focuses not on just lean management but on the human side of lean, what Toyota calls respect for people. Lonnie says his legacy is his kids in his books and a whole slew of soccer players he coached over the years who still stop by to stay in touch with coach. Lonnie currently lives in El Paso, Texas and is married with four adult children, the youngest one is in college and three others are married and combined have given Lonnie and his wife Roxana seven grandkids aged 15 to four months. Lonnie Wilson, are you ready to help us get over the hump?


Lonnie Wilson:   Yes, anxious.


Jim Rembach:    I’m glad you’re here. Now I’ve given my legion a little bit about you but if you could tell us what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better? 


Lonnie Wilson:   Well my current passion is lean manufacturing. Teaching it and creating a new and different culture in a business. A culture where they not only satisfy their clients but they satisfy their suppliers and they keep the people in the facility happy. It’s easy enough if they do it properly to have a good workplace with high morale and make a buck. 

Jim Rembach:    Most definitely. And your book is, Sustaining Workforce Engagement and I mentioned to you, for those who are watching on video can see that this book is very comprehensive. I mean, talking about the engineers’ mind coming through, in the pages it’s quite extensive. I initially asked you I said, who’s using this is a text book? And I would dare to say that you’re going to have significantly more using it as a text book then you do have right now for certain. Because when you start looking at the mechanics of workforce engagement—and here’s the thing when I start thinking myself about workforce engagement you refer to no manufacturing and things like that but engagement is something that is required and needed in all types of different industries. I mean, every single industry today is focusing in on some type of employee engagement opportunity and issue. So when you start thinking about the translation and the transposing some of the work that you’re doing in two other areas, what could you see as a potential barrier for that happening? Because I don’t see any.


Lonnie Wilson:   For it to happen in other areas besides manufacturing? There is none. There is none because the engagement issue is a human issue it’s all about people. And that’s what’s common whether you’re in manufacturing or teaching you’re in sales. It’s interesting when I was doing the research for the book of all of the information out in the marketplace about engagement less than 5% of it is in manufacturing. The majority of the research and the majority of the surveys and the data and the compilations and the Gallup reviews the vast majority of it is non-manufacturing. 


Jim Rembach:    Okay, so that leads me to believe a couple different things and I don’t necessarily want to speculate. The going back to the manufacturing world, which quite frankly has impacted every other industry is, we had the whole what I call the Taylorism effect. We had the humans that were required to produce some type of work output and that’s just the way that they were actually viewed. While engagement doesn’t necessarily take into consideration in order for you to be engaged you have to kind of pull away from that Taylorism and the issues associated with it. So manufacturing is definitely more geared towards the whole Taylorism piece. I would dare to say when you start talking about in a book some of the eclectic management skills and you talk about lost skills. Share a little bit about what those lost skills are?


Lonnie Wilson:   Well I talk about two of them actually there’s probably several but there’s two that I really focused it on. The one that I find in this book’s common is the inability to delegate. People don’t delegate they assign. The difference being they kind of put boundaries on people and they don’t allow them to respond properly. At the core of the difference between delegation and assignment is a very simple concept and that is a person who delegates well tells his people what he wants to do and why he wants to do it. On the other hand, he leaves the how they go about doing it to them after all they’re the ones who are doing it they should be the experts in the field. And what I find is there’s too much micromanagement and too much weak delegation where they not only tell people what to do and seldom tell them why, usually that’s a missing piece. And then the third thing is they imbue them with all the house that it needs to be done and very often they box them in. So they’ve got a situation where they give them an assignment but it can’t be done because the resources and the methods conflict with the overall objectives.


Jim Rembach:    Okay, so when I start looking at—and you talk about it in the book, the system’s, the systemic approach, the system’s thinking associated with workforce engagement, what are some of the things that kind of stand out to you as, again I want to say opportunities we see that we have a lot of them and I don’t want to keep focusing in on the negative aspects we have a lot of opportunity when it comes to workforce engagement, where do you see them?


Lonnie Wilson:   Well, I think the biggest thing is for people to simplify and humanize their thinking. One of the first things I do when I’m teaching people workforce engagement is I ask them, tell me about something that you can do all day long maybe even through the night and what is it that gets you going about that thing? And so people will talk about their hobbies and all kinds of their applications instead of their vocation. And so what I find out is if you can get people thinking about and answering the question, why is it that some of your people can get deeply involved in hobbies? What is it about the hobby that causes them to do it? What is it about volunteer activities? Some of your people—I’ve had discussions with managers who will spend 20 30 40 hours a week outside of their job as a volunteer doing basically what they would do anyway in their normal job but they just go crazy doing the volunteer activity. 


I just recently spoke to a guy who’s an accountant for a church and he hates his accounting job but he loves his job at the church, it’s the same thing. What’s the difference? As soon as you encapsulate and understand those differences then it’s pretty easy to translate that into making changes in your culture making changes in your workplace so your people can be not just productive but healthy and happy about it.


Jim Rembach:    To me I think it leads into what you were talking about in the book going into the six eclectic management skills. Share a little bit about what those are.


Lonnie Wilson:   Well the skills are—I just call them eclectic skills because they’re skills that people I think are taught in most of their management training but they’re not emphasized enough. And when you emphasize them and you focus in on them you get to the heart and you get to the core of what causes people to do what they do. The last one, the key one to me is just amazing and I call it questioning and integration instead of telling people what to do ask them about things. And then learning from that create an ongoing dialogue where you can take the best of both people and integrate it into a common solution.


Jim Rembach:    When I start looking at what you talked about those two lost skills converting them into more of the modern skills and what we’re seeing in as far as the workforce is concerned where are you finding that most people are seeing some gains in?


Lonnie Wilson:   Strangely enough the biggest impact I’ve seen, particularly recently, and I think it’s just because I’m more tuned into it and I’m paying a great deal of attention to it is that managers have lost the concept that there are also supervisors. And they spend their time worried about the machines particularly the finances and they’re forgetting about the people. One of my mentors along the way told me he said, Lonnie, you take care of the people they’ll take care of everything else. And I think people have lost a lot of managers have lost that and their myopically viewing the spreadsheets and the balance sheets and the monthly reports and the quarterly profits and forgetting how they got there.


Jim Rembach:    On the service side in the book you talk about the power of the frontline supervisor and I think I’m hitting on there. When you start getting outside of the manufacturing world you start talking about, especially in today’s economy for us in the (11:44 inaudible) about servicing it’s about providing some type service and at the frontline level a lot of it is about   handling or managing the interaction it’s doing transactions it’s doing something as a point in time delivery of a service and then therefore moving on to yet something else. There’s still metrics associated with that, it’s like, okay, so how many times did you do that in the hour? How long did it take you? All of those metric components that the frontline supervisor may be looking at. And one of the things that we often find too in the servicing world is that the person who is actually the individual contributor moved up to that position of the frontline leader and therefore the skill development did not come along with it. That’s why I created the Call Center Coach Leadership Academy for customer service operations and contact centers is because typically it’s a sink or swim scenario. So when you start talking though about the shift that has happened in the past couple decades and the people who are moving into the frontline today versus people who moved into the frontline say 20 years ago,  what are they dealing with today that they never had to deal with before?


Lonnie Wilson:   Oh, wow, good question, I really hadn’t thought about that a great deal. But I think structurally in terms of getting the work done I don’t think there’s a great deal of difference. If you’re a manufacturing first-line manager that kind of the same old stuff. But however in today’s world people have changed a lot particularly since the like say the 50s. If you go back several decades at that time people were intrinsically loyal they were just pleased as could be to have a job and now it’s different and people used to think of a job as a way to get money and now a job is a way to get money and then have the time to be able to use it. And so there’s a whole other dynamic that’s coming into play. 


But the big advantage that we really haven’t captured and I mean North America, South America I see the problem in Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Canada, everywhere is that 50 or 60 years ago a lot of these people came to work at the at the entry level as a machinist or as a call center person some of them didn’t even have a high school education and now these people not only have high school education a lot of them have two-year degrees four-year degrees that maybe or not maybe the other degree in the literature and they’re working in a manufacturing plant but they’re talented they’re immensely talented much more talented than they were before. And if there’s one thing that my Japanese clients almost to the client you better than my Western clients is that they tap in to that knowledge base they tap into that motivation of those people they tap into their desire to make things better they tap in their desire to contribute and thereby for all kinds of other people to work at innovation and creativity. So I think singularly that’s the biggest thing that I’ve seen over the last several years is can these supervisors unleash that talent in their people?


Jim Rembach:    Okay, well that brings the whole question of motivation, science of motivation, the leading in the managing of motivation, into play. When you talk about motivation what does that mean from your perspective?


 Lonnie Wilson:   Well, interestingly enough one of the things—I teach the three rules of motivation, I discussed them at length in my book. The first rule is don’t try to motivate people. They come to work motivated and people say, well they’re not motivated now, that’s because of the way in which they were handled while they were there and people don’t feed their own intrinsic motivators they don’t give them the opportunity to be autonomous they don’t give them the opportunity to show their competence and grow their confidence and then people become demotivated. The second rule is don’t demotivate the people. There’s a million ways in which people demotivate people and very often the sad part of it is they demotivate them by doing things that they design that are well-intentioned. They’re just wrong they try to bribe them with parking spots and tickets to the hockey game and the people don’t need to be bribed what they need to do is have the opportunity to contribute at the workplace. And then the third rule is learn to use the intrinsic motivators. And that’s the key that’s why people love this volunteer work and that’s why people love doing their hobbies because they activate these intrinsic motivators. As a matter of fact, an interesting thing I learned while I was researching the book where the people who’s a landmark psychologist in the field of intrinsic motivation is a fellow named Dr. Edward Deci at Rochester Tech and he said Lonnie, these are not intrinsic motivators these are intrinsic needs. The difference being if they’re satisfied health and well-being ensue if they’re truncated then ill-health some form of illness happens. It might be stress it might be anxiety it might be depression it might be boredom, he said boredom is the most common one. And so the psychologists don’t talk about intrinsic motivators they talk about intrinsic needs and when that finally gelled in my mind and set in I said, wow, this is a revelation. 


Jim Rembach:    Okay, so that leads me to think about something as you were talking where somebody was asking the question, what is a more powerful way in order to be able to engage people? Is it by incentives or is it by rewards? I think those are the questions and my reply is neither. 


Lonnie Wilson:   Yeah, exactly. There’s a great article written by a guy by the name of Hirschberg, I forget Hirschberg first name, but the subtitle is interesting it says and it was talking about workforce motivation and it said, forget the incentives forget the in words make the workplace fun for the individual. And they don’t mean fun in terms of playing basketball and shooting hoops they mean satisfying the intrinsic motivators. And then Hershberger goes on to talk about that and he developed something that’s very, very popular in the world of psychology that managers should deeply understand but almost don’t. I find very few who do it and it’s what they call Hirschberg two-factor theory. He says, there’s hygiene factors which are things that if satisfied create almost nothing if they’re not satisfied they create dissatisfaction. Things like money, benefits, and stuff. And then there are motivators and all of his motivators are the intrinsic motivators a sense of accomplishment, a sense of recognition, competency the work itself and his thirst  will prove in time and time and time again they’re golden. The bad news about that is he was writing in the 50’s and it’s still not well understood or grasped.


Jim Rembach:    For me when I start looking at this from a societal perspective I mean a couple things come out to play is that we want the quick fix. Just let me get to the performance whatever it takes that’s one thing not create a harm as far as bodily harm. And then the other thing is associated with the sheer money that is actually spent into rewards and recognition programs. We’re talking billions of dollars, how do you fight against that?


Lonnie Wilson:   It’s kind of an uphill battle because this concept of extrinsic rewards money, parking spots, hockey tickets, passes to the to the theater, and that type of stuff for improved performance of a cell or a line or even a whole plant. Obviously, people like that because they get some kind of a short-term benefit. But immediately after the hockey game they forgot what it was about and where it came from and they just don’t work. As a matter of fact, there’s a very interesting and revealing book written by a guy named Alfie Kohn, and it’s called Punished by Rewards, he goes through how the reward system in schools, gold stars and ABC letters actually work tremendously to demotivate people and discourage them from activating. When I try to teach this concept of motivation I just asked a manager I said, okay, you’re making 350,000 dollars a year if I paid you a million bucks would you be three times smarter? Would you do two or three times harder? And no two person tell you, I’m giving it all I got. And the next question the follow up question and the coaching question is, okay, so what’s different with Mary on the line? Is she not given all she’s got? And when you can get in their head and get them to see everybody else through their own perspective and through their perspective I’ve been able to make some headway with that. But sometimes that’s not so easy this concept of instant gratification is a monster, it’s a monster. 


Jim Rembach:    Well, ideas, I mean—needless to say we need a whole lot of energy and a whole lot of effort to fight the monster because we have to especially if we want that long-term value that long-term impact. We can’t keep putting short-term fixes on a long-term problem. Relationships and successful relationships and long-term relationships require an ongoing vision   and an ongoing path. But we need support to be able to do that and one of the things that we look at on the show in order to support us are quotes. Is there a quote or two that you like that you can share? 


Lonnie Wilson:   One of the things when you’re talking about relationships I think was Benjamin Franklin said that, successes miss by pin many people because it’s dressed in coveralls and looks like hard work.  And another one I liked was the one by John—is it Kenneth Galbraith? The economist? He said that, many, many people will see success but—no, no, in the matter of changing one’s mind, pardon me, many people see the opportunity and then just get up and walk on as if nothing had happened. And so people can see all kinds of things that will occur but when it comes to them changing themselves very often things like denial and things come into play –those are a couple that I have. I have those in in each of my books. 


Jim Rembach:    Those are very good ones. I mean, there’s also another one that’s on our refrigerator wall that says something to the effect of, I can’t—something about their behavior, it’s just how much time I spend in reading the refrigerator I’m typically got my nose in it. But it basically goes along the lines of, I can’t hear what you’re saying because your actions are drowning it out.  It’s one of those things, I even made mention this the other day is me growing up I always heard the statement of don’t do as I do as I say that makes it a little bit difficult to actually do what I’m supposed to.


Lonnie Wilson:   Actually that concept is—in my book I talk about three skill sets that people need to have and that’s one of the skill sets modeling that is part of the management team and it’s the third set it’s the set that solidifies everything. You can get people to change in the short term but if you want it sustained they have to be able to see that they’re willing to make the sacrifice as well as you’re willing to make the sacrifice. Are you willing to change? And when that happens—and to be honest with you Jim, if people are looking for model the family is a perfect one. I used to play this game, I coach soccer for 32 years, and the parents would come to the game and I’d play this game and I try to match the parents with the kids if you spend a little time just looking at them and watch them you don’t even have to have a protracted discussion with them. You can see the behaviors of the kids as a mirror of what the parents have taught them. And so a lot of management people twist and turn and trying to turn into an incredibly complicated science and some of it is, make no mistake about it, but there’s a lot of it that’s just down home common sense and a lot of it you learn at home, you really did.


Jim Rembach:    Well, that’s it, I think that’s some of the issues we have so much influence from a societal perspective that is outside of the home where some of these things happen and occur is really unsuspecting. I even remember going back many years ago when all of a sudden, my daughter at the time is six or seven years old, started getting this really sarcastic type of behavior and was really just being very curt and hurtful and I’m like, where did all this come from? And it came from a Disney show that she was watching. They were very, very sarcastic in their humor and stuff like that, and I’m like, stop watching that. And that was bold because their influences just can be something as a parent you definitely don’t want to have them display. And I would dare to say goes back to that modeling piece if all of your people are just around a certain particular type of behavior that’s being modeled you can’t expect them to do something different. Also when you start talking about you going through and getting to where you are now being the engineer looking at it from the lean perspective and all of that I would dare to say you had a lot of humps that you had to get over that led you to where you are right now what you believe. Is there a time that you’ve gotten over the hump that you can share with us?


Lonnie Wilson:   Yeah, it was a few years back I was working with the firm and we’re doing a lean transformation and we’re doing it kind of in the classic method and it wasn’t working it wasn’t working at all. And the company was very, very pleased with what was going on but if you sat back and looked at it dispassionately you could say, we’re just not making much change. And basically the management was so ego-involved in it that they couldn’t see what was really going on. I was staring failure right smack dab in the face and I didn’t quite know what to do with it. So I sat down and did some discussion and one of the things was I talked to my pastor, the pastor was a lady, and she said, well, I don’t know what’s going on but your problem is hubris. And I said, hmm I thought about that a little bit and I thought about how the managers are treated and she was exactly right, it really was. What I was able to do then I said, okay, we’ve got to change this so we can turn it into a success. I figured out what we were doing wrong and I knew some of the things we were doing wrong, although I thought we could overcome them, but instead I came up with a ploy and I said, we need to try some of these new techniques in an individual facility. One of the problems that we had done is we tried to do it across the number of value streams and change the whole place at once. So I recognized that that was failing and I also recognized that they weren’t about to change it. And so what I did is I said, okay, let’s try it on a small scale. So we went into one plant and we changed one plant and in record time we tripled its productivity we tripled the profitability. The plant was barely hanging on with a 5% margin the last quarter they averaged 19% over the year we got him to 14%, morale skyrocketed, and employee retention rose like crazy. They were in kind of an expansion mode and hiring and luckily as we made productivity improvements there was nobody that got fired, this company would have fired on a heartbeat but they just hired less. I’d been very, very successful implemented a lot of lean initiatives and this one just didn’t work and I spent many sleepless nights thinking about it before we made some changes. But we came through with this kind of subterfuge, let’s try something on a smaller scale, and then once we did it on a smaller scale we were able to sell them that that’s what we need to do everywhere. And they kind of backed away from the approach at least several divisions did and we started making a significant progress. But I was scared to be honest with you I was afraid that it wasn’t going to work and it was my design and I was part of the problem. So that’s where I came up with a lean mantra that we use in all of my transformation and that’s, think small think fast and think lots of cycles to the PDCA cycle, don’t try to eat it all in one bite. No way at it. That’s one of the reasons why the sixth eclectic skill is disintegration. Because one of the things that happens is as you make change all kinds of sympathetic changes occur. Some is sympathetic and some is antagonistic and you have to be able to recognize what’s going on and respond to those. When we went through this initiative things did not go well and ultimately we got it down to where we did it in a small place we came up with a different model of transformation and away we went. 


Jim Rembach:    I think what you also described right there is something that we all kind of need to take into consideration is something that we deploy and then we make some iterations and then we do some testing we fail fast, I think even said that a moment ago, before we go and hit them all. And sometimes that’s actually the path that’s going to get you to your outcome faster even though we may say, oh, we have to take all of our time doing that? And there was a great example of, yes, because we wouldn’t have gotten there otherwise.


Lonnie Wilson:   Yeah, and I had been doing these lean transformations, for I don’t know a dozen years at least at that time, and it shows you how blind you can be by being close to something. One day while I was driving home from work I thought about this transformation it was going good and this thought popped in my mind and it said, well, of course stupid that’s exactly what Toyota did they didn’t have a grand plan and lay out this orchestrated with the set of resources and stuff they took on a problem they fixed it then they took up another problem and pretty soon they had some things that they found out that works and then they expanded it. When I learned that, I don’t know how many books I had read about the Toyota production system at the time, but it just never dawned on me in a practical sense how it was. Some of the stuff is not rocket science but it’s still sometimes we’re blind to it. I was blind to that. 


Jim Rembach:    I think that’s a great point. For me when I start thinking about some of the discussion that you and I have had off mic when I was talking about the work that you put together here I started talking about that higher education and I started talking about academic use you have a very robust, deeply researched, as I had mentioned this is a textbook. When you start talking about goals and aspirations and things that you have with where you are now and the work that you’re doing, share with us what one of those goals are?


Lonnie Wilson:   I really have three things that I want to really accomplish as I go forward. In the last few years working, I’ve worked for 50 years, I can’t stop because I love it and if I did stop doing what I do I just continue to work with nonprofits and volunteer organizations, which I still do a little bit of help it out my church and that type of stuff, but I want people to be able to take this beast called lean manufacturing and apply it in manufacturing and other places. It is just a fabulous tool that everybody comes out a winner. It’s one of the places where I tell people you can have your cake and eat it too. 


You can get profitability and improve quality you can get improve morale at reduced cost you can get higher productivity and improve morale all of these things are totally compatible. But because we have a variety of dysfunctional paradigms a lot of people don’t believe that they think if you’re going to improve the quality you got to prepare to invest the money well. Maybe you invest the ingenuity maybe you invest the time maybe you invest the engagement and get it. That’s really one of the things that I want to do. Kind of a subset of that is that along the way a number of people have helped me including my current mentor who is a fellow named Toshi

Amino. Toshi happens to be in Japan at that time, he usually spent six months here in the States and six months in Japan, he was the retired vice-president of human resources for Honda. He and I talked, not so frequently now that he’s in Japan, but we talk a lot and he was a tremendous mentor and an advisor to me. All along people have helped me out and so I’d like to pay that forward and let people learn from my failures as well as my successes. 


Jim Rembach:    And the Fast Leader legion wishes you the very best. Now before we move on let’s get a quick word from our sponsor:


An even better place to work is an easy to use solution that gives you a continuous diagnostic on employee engagement along with integrated activities that will improve employee engagement and leadership skills in everyone. Using this award-winning solution is guaranteed to create motivated, productive, and loyal employees who have great work relationships with our colleagues and your customers. To learn more about an even better place to work visit 


Jim Rembach:     Okay, here we go Fast Leader legion it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Lonnie, the Hump Day Hoedown is a part of our show where you give us good insights fast. So, I’m going to ask you several questions and your job is to give us robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Lonnie Wilson, are you ready to hoedown? 


Lonnie Wilson:   Yes sir. 


Jim Rembach:    Alright, so what is holding you back from being an even better leader today?


Lonnie Wilson:   Oh well, I’ve got my own paradigms that I need to overcome. 


Lonnie Wilson:   What is the best leadership advice you’ve ever received?


Lonnie Wilson:   Be a good role model.


Jim Rembach:    What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?


Lonnie Wilson:   I work hard. I study hard. I still read 30 to 50 books a year. And what I’ve learned is that we all have blind spots.


Jim Rembach:    What do you feel is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life?


Lonnie Wilson:   I like to think that I’m a good role model.


Jim Rembach:    What would be one book you’d recommend to our legion it could be from any genre, of course, we’re going to put a link to Sustaining Workforce Engagement on your show notes page as well.


Lonnie Wilson:   I can’t think of one but I can think of two particularly for manager. There’s a very, very good one written by—oh, geez, now as it escapes me, Situational Leadership it talks about how you integrate the tasks these people need to do with the work that needs to be performed and then as a supervisor provide the link so that they can be successful. He says something that’s just absolutely golden and that is that, the success of your people is dependent upon you as a supervisor your job is to make them successful. The second one is Hertzberg book I got it on my back shelf I could find it in a bit. The book by Hertzberg, he has really written several but he talks about motivation in the workplace. 


Jim Rembach:   Okay, Fast Leader Legion, you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to Wilson. Okay, Lonnie, this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question. Imagine you were been given the opportunity to go back to the age to 25 and you can take the knowledge and skills you have now back with you can’t take it all you can only choose one. What skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?


Lonnie Wilson:   I think one of the things that’s helped me a lot as I’ve gotten older is I become more empathetic. I’ve been able to see into people better and understand what they were doing. When I was 25 I didn’t know everything but there were an awful lot of things I thought I knew that I really didn’t know and as you get older you get a little bit more humble. So I guess if there is one thing I would like to bring back to me back to that time frame to help me even grow better and faster would be to have a better sense of empathy.


Jim Rembach:    Lonnie, it was a pleasure to spend time with you today. How do people get in touch with you?


Lonnie Wilson:   Well, I’ve got a website it’s, there’s a ton of information on there. Maybe 60 or 70 articles I’ve written, props for how to develop leader standard work and A3 problem-solving all kinds of lean tools and it’s got all my contact information. I make a deal with everybody who’s a student and that is that if you were ever a student with mind you’re always a student of mine. And those people were listening to this broadcast or in some level is student of mine so they can give me a call anytime they want.


Jim Rembach:    Lonnie Wilson, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom the Fast Leader legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump. Woot! Woot! 

Thank you for joining me on the Fast Leader show today. For recaps, links, from every show special offers and access to download and subscribe, if you haven’t already, head on over a so we can help you move onward and upward faster.