Steve Minter knows that humanity and passion fuels successful manufacturing. Away from the public consciousness of automated factories or cold steel plants, the leadership comes from a few individuals who are dedicated to doing the best possible. Minter writes about how he came to this revelation due to a recent Best Plants Conference in Atlanta, highlighting the effort of a few individuals who found big success: Wil James, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, also knows about doing the “harder right.” For many companies, the recession was about reducing costs, and employees often felt as if they had a target on their backs. But James had been schooled in a company philosophy that emphasized that the “decisions we make should not only benefit our team members in the short term but in the long term.” So rather than lay off employees, James told the Best Plants attendees, Toyota kept them busy by offering them additional training, devoting time to continuous-improvement projects and providing them paid time off to volunteer in the community. Though the lessons of successful leaders, the core elements of success (passion, understanding, long term thinking and responsibility) can be understood as they are used in the real world, demonstrating that without a dedicated leader, even the best manufacturing operation is doomed to fail.