The role of Black Belt is one of the most challenging in Business Improvement. They must walk the line between technical nous and the people skills necessary to lead people to success. Black Belts must be statistician, PR guru and charismatic leader all rolled into one. Having trained and supported Black Belts for over 15 years, we’ve collated our top tips to make even the most experienced Black Belts even more effective.

1. Get close to your Sponsor

Your company Sponsor opens doors within the organisation, and their role is specifically created to help smooth the path of Lean Six Sigma implementation. It is wise, then, to meet regularly with them to ensure you are both on the same page, and that expectations within the company are correctly managed.

2. Work on your internal PR

While you’re working so close to a Business Improvement project, it can be difficult to appreciate that there will be some people within the organisation who have little to no idea of the changes your team is making. Make it a priority to ensure everyone in the company knows of your team’s successes and exactly how they are benefiting the business and its employees.

3. Get to grips with the finances

The importance of understanding the financial side of Lean Six Sigma cannot be overstated. Make sure you have a clear understanding of the savings generated. Work closely with the finance department to ensure these figures are accurate and that they get official sign off.

4. It’s all in the presentation

Much of a Black Belt’s role is presenting information, ideas and results to interested parties at all levels. Work on your presentation skills to ensure you are credible and engaging, no matter who you are talking to.

5. Never forget to network

It is essential to network internally and externally so that you can get the necessary help within the company when you need it, but also so that you remain aware of any new developments and best practice that will impact your role.

Networking, black belts

6. Exude confidence

Working closely with people is a core aspect of a Black Belt’s role. Whatever you do, if you do it with confidence you are far more likely to secure buy-in and get people on board with your suggestions. People won’t believe in you if you don’t appear to believe in yourself.

7. Cultivate creativity

Problem solving is all about creativity. If the solution was easy, it would have been implemented before so Black Belts often need to think outside the box to deliver the right answers. Try to ensure you and your team are creative in the way you use the Lean Six Sigma tools, and the way you come up with solutions.

8. Be the right kind of leader

There is little more detrimental to a team’s success than a poor leader. Lead the team in a way that suits their personal needs. Be inclusive. Be open. Be honest. But remember the importance of a disciplined approach.

9. Give credit where it’s due

Nothing takes the wind out of a person’s sails like someone else taking credit for their work. Ensure the credit for your collective success is given to your team. Leaders benefit from reflected glory, so there is no need to damage the team dynamic by monopolising the limelight.

10. Influence, Influence, Influence

From the C-suite to the shop floor, it’s down to the Black Belt to ensure everyone is on board with Lean Six Sigma. The key to influencing is to look at the world through their eyes, anticipate their concerns, and react accordingly. This step is absolutely essential, as without company-wide buy-in, Lean Six Sigma projects will not reach their full potential.

The role of Lean Six Sigma Black Belt is tough, but ultimately incredibly rewarding. As a change agent, you’re personally responsible for driving improvements within a company that lead to thousands, if not millions, of pounds saved, happier customers and more productive staff.

What tips do you have that have helped you improve your own performance?