Toyota Way Lean Leadership: Some Preliminary Findings From the Chinese Construction Industry

Gao Shang1

1Lecturer, School of Architecture and the Built Environment, The University of Newcastle, Australia (Singapore Campus), UoN Singapore Pte Ltd, 355 Jalan Bukit Ho Swee, BLK B, 4th Floor, Room 407, Singapore (169567). Phone +65 8200 8140, Email: [email protected]


Lean, which has its roots in the Toyota Production System (TPS), became a “buzz” word since early 1990s. To capture its true meaning, substantial attempts are made. Of these, Liker’s work on the Toyota Way is viewed as the most comprehensive and propounding. One of the principles associates with the Toyota Way is the Toyota Way style leadership, which has a big role to play in the lean transformation. This paper reviews the works of lean leadership, with a focus on the “Toyota Way style”. A list of attributes that pertain to Toyota Way lean leadership was developed, aimed at measuring the Maturity of Lean Leadership. This paper then made a qualitative inquiry with respect to the leadership characteristics of Chinese building professionals. As part of a larger research project, this study then made a comparison to the Toyota Way lean leadership. It was found that some of the Chinese leadership characteristics parallel the Toyota Way lean leadership attributes, but a few are presently not in place. Strategies are proposed for better implementation of the Toyota Way lean leadership in order for construction firms to have better opportunities to embark on the Lean journey.


Toyota Way, Lean leadership, China, Construction industry, Building professionals.



Shang, G. 2014, 'Toyota Way Lean Leadership: Some Preliminary Findings From the Chinese Construction Industry' In:, Kalsaas, B. T., Koskela, L. & Saurin, T. A., 22nd Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. Oslo, Norway, 25-27 Jun 2014. pp 1145-1156

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