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In a Lean environment, leader standard work stands as a crucial element for effective leadership. Simply applying Lean processes without evolving leadership principles and practices leads to eventual breakdowns. Leaders must adapt their approaches to align with Lean principles for sustained success.

So, what exactly is leader standard work? It encompasses activities that reinforce Lean principles. Leaders, for instance, should schedule time to observe the Gemba, mentor their team, and ensure alignment with True North goals. The primary challenge in implementing leader standard work lies in the discipline and commitment required, especially in organizations that reward "firefighting" and heroic efforts over consistent routines.

But why do leaders need standard work? Leading in a Lean environment demands a shift in mental models. Leaders ask questions, lead from the Gemba, and embrace a different style. Jeff Liker likens leader standard work to training wheels, helping develop new habits and making new leadership patterns second nature.

Standardizing processes precedes improvement. Leaders, like everyone else, engage in processes. By standardizing leadership processes, leaders can identify issues and continually refine them. The practice also reflects respect for every individual, a core principle in the journey towards a culture of continuous improvement.

Achieving superior results involves aligning leader standard work with frontline standard work. Leaders should exemplify the same commitment they expect from front-line employees in designing, following, and improving their standard work. This not only fosters respect but also reduces variations in leadership approaches.

Implementing leader standard work demands humility, patience, and commitment. While the benefits may take time to manifest, they prove enduring. Leader standard work serves as a linchpin in the Lean management system, sustaining improvements and keeping staff engaged throughout the organization's transformative journey.



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