Leader standard work defines what activities you as a leader should be doing, when you should be doing them, and how you should be approaching each one. Leader standard work includes activities that you should be doing on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. These activities need to support the principles of organizational excellence.
It can be hard for leaders to take the initiative to implement their own standard work because it takes commitment and patience. It also requires you to look closely at the purpose of your job and whether the activities you are doing are aligned with that purpose.
If you have not already adopted your own leader standard work, we highly encourage you to try it. Leader standard work is an essential component of a lean environment and will help you sustain a culture of continuous improvement.
Here are four reasons leader standard work is vital:
Reduce Variation and Improve Performance
As with the implementation of any standard work, leader standard work will help reduce variation and improve performance. If you follow our advice of aligning the activities included in your standard work with the purpose and priorities of your role in the organization then you will ensure that your work is supporting that purpose.
Develop Direct Reports
Often, leader standard work will include things like going to gemba at certain times or maybe doing Stat Sheets with direct reports. If part of your role is to develop people you will need to establish regular opportunities to observe and coach those people. You will be amazed at the number of coaching opportunities that arise when your leader standard work has you interacting with the team on a regular cadence.
Model the Way
Chances are that you expect all your direct reports to use standard work. If you as a leader do not follow standard work, how likely do you think those who report to you will be to follow it? Using leader standard work can be a powerful method to model the way for focusing on the process.
Support Your Teams
Following leader standard work will help you guide your team. The process of developing your leader standard work will enable you to focus on the tasks that really matter. This will allow you to create the time to remove barriers and support your team. If you follow our advice and align the activities in your leader standard work with the priorities, many activities you do on a regular basis will be around supporting your team’s development and needs.
Leader standard work should be specific to you and your role. It often includes things like going to gemba, participating in huddles, connecting with direct reports, and even time to respond to emails and review your calendar. You will also want to find a way to trigger the activities you include on your leader standard work; some people block out time in their calendars and some use a checklist approach. You might need to try a few different methods to determine which works best for you.
Remember, leader standard work defines what you as a leader should be doing, when you should be doing it, and how should be doing it. Leader standard work is essential in a culture of continuous improvement. It takes discipline and commitment to follow leader standard work, but it is well worth it.
Do you have leader standard work?
Lead with Purpose Using Leader Standard Work virtual workshop
Beyond Heroes, by Kim Barnas
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