Sylvania No Comments


Below is an actual letter written by a mentee to his legitimate leadership mentor – we would like to thank the mentee for it. For obvious reasons, names have been removed. The business is in the printing industry.

Dear Coach

I had an incident in my department over the weekend that I would like to run past you in the light of the empowerment/means/ability session (a module conducted by Legitimate Leadership – editor) we had today.


After a journeyman does a make-ready, he selects a copy which he feels is of good quality and standard and takes it to his shift leader to “pass”.

The “pass” process includes the shift leader together with the journeyman checking the good selected copy versus the work ticket as well as the dummy book/book proof. If the shift leader is happy with both the standard and quality of the book he signs off the copy, and this now becomes the “pass” copy – to which the journeyman can make reference throughout the duration of the run (maintaining an equal level of standard and quality). The journeyman counter-signs the job.

Over the weekend a journeyman ran 80% of the job without a bind-in. The work ticket indicated that the job should have a bind-in, although the dummy book was supplied without the bind-in. The “pass” copy was signed off by both parties (the journeyman and the shift leader) – both missed the bind-in on the work ticket.

  1. A) Who should be held to account for this mistake?
  2. The journeyman?
  3. The shift leader?
  4. Both?
  5. B) Why?


Please assist me if I am missing the plot, but the following is what I have learned out of today’s session.

I should ask myself …

  • Why does the shift leader need to sign off?
  • If the shift leader signs off, does that mean he now takes responsibility for the “pass” copy and all copies matching the “pass” copies?

As I understand it, in the light of what I have learned today …

a) The journeyman has the means and ability to produce a good quality book. Hence he should rightfully select a good copy and “pass” it himself, against the dummy and work ticket, and sign it off.

b) The journeyman should then take full responsibility for his production.

c) Should the journeyman reach a point where he is struggling to obtain a good copy to “pass”, due to machine- or material-related issues, he should then escalate this to his shift leader, as he does not have the means to produce a “pass” copy. The role of his shift leader would then be to resolve the machine or material issue, and supply him with the means.

In the incident over the weekend, both parties followed the pass copy procedure, yet both missed the bind-in. However, with the shift leader’s signature on the “pass” copy, should the shift leader, the journeyman, or both, be held to account for producing books without the bind-in?

Or should I ask myself …

  1. Where in the process did each party fail?
  2. What do I hold each party accountable for? Failing to adhere to the work instruction?
  3. Can I truly hold both parties accountable for failing to adhere to the work instructions, as the shift leader provided the journeyman with the means and ability to produce good copy with a bind-in?

Coach – please put me on the right track here. From what I have learned today I am leaning towards steps a-c above, but also considering steps 1-3 above – in other words, analysing where, during the process, each party failed and then holding each one accountable for the part he/she ought to play during the process.

COMMENT BY WENDY LAMBOURNE, DIRECTOR, LEGITIMATE LEADERSHIP: This person has really “‘ got”‘ the empowerment module. This is a mini example of legitimate leadership in action. Imagine if everyone was not only thinking but acting like this mentee – that is, dealing with the incident through the empowerment/contribution lens, getting some coaching input from his/her boss if needed, and taking the appropriate action.

Leave a Reply