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perspective
It’s all about Perspective
July 27, 2022
Grow
Grow to Learn, Learn to Grow
July 28, 2022
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Leaders Go See and Support, Managers Audit

Leader standard work

Leader Standard Work comprises the activities and behaviours of effective leaders to support that the Work is completed as designed. But if you think you can checklist and audit yourself towards leading your industry, you’ve got it wrong.

I had to think about this when I had an experience at a hotel. This was pre-vaccines my 200+ conference buddies and I were quarantined due to a positive Covid case staying there. Hotel management gave their personal assurance that ‘deep-cleaning’ would take place to ensure our safety.  This fell flat when I noticed that hard-to-complete cleaning tasks were not done, and obviously were not verified either. So much for personal assurance.

Let’s use this hotel example to explore how Standard Work – the activities completed to create value for the customer – and Leader Standard Work overlap. Easy to complete and easy to check tasks, such as replacing the towels or making the bed, will not provide concerns. But you are at a leadership crossroads when the work is hard to do, and/or when the checks are hard to do. Tasks that are easy to complete but hard to verify include the disinfection of door handles and light switches. The leader can only check the successful completion when she is present when the work happens. An example of a task that is hard to complete but easy to verify for the manager and the customer is vacuuming under the beds. The verifying manager does not need to be present; he can check afterwards and ‘reprimand’ the worker if the work is not done to standard.

When the task and/or check is hard, the long-term success of the team depends on how the leader behaves. If you interpret Leader Standard Work only as checks to see if the work is done (to hold to account), you’re the traditional policeman manager. But if you interpret Leader Standard Work as an opportunity to support your team towards greater success, you’re maximising your leadership effectiveness. Managers audit, but leaders go see and support the work.

Patrick Adams recently wrote this about Leader Standard Work: “The actions and behaviours of your leaders will determine your culture. Since we know this, why would we not want to ensure those actions and behaviours are intentional? Leader standard work does just that. Intentional actions aligned with the companies’ long-term vision will give you the results you are looking for.”

Misinterpreting Leader Standard Work will have a negative impact on your culture. When you audit, you are only going to get compliance. When you go see the work with your team and ask questions, you are going to get commitment. And from this commitment comes the learning journey towards leading your industry. The actions and behaviours of your leaders will determine your culture.

About the author: Geerten Lengkeek is the Managing Director of Productivity People