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Leader Standard Work

Lean system and templates for implementing lean leadership responsibilities

What is Leader Standard Work?

One of the 3 essential components of a lean management system,

a leader standard work template is a daily checklist for a lean leader.


  1. Enables average leaders to consistently yield above average results
  2. Translates vague lean principles into unambiguous performance evaluation criteria
  3. Provides a repeatable, systematic way to get leaders at all levels to consistently focus attention on both:
    • Results, and...
    • The Process (that yields the results)
  4. Provides continuity of best practices through leadership transitions

    allowing incoming leaders to benefit from the preserved experience of their predecessor

high paid guru

Standardized tools?
Oh no, man, everyone just
does their own thing
around here


Who uses Leader Standard Work?

Every single leader in a lean organization should spend a percentage of his or her day doing routine, standardized lean management tasks.

The closer to the customer, the higher the percentage of time that Leader Standard Work checklists should be followed:

Old style management

Still managing the old way?

Have you tried
Lean Management Systems?

Yes, even the CEO in a lean organization

should also perform a small percentage of routine, standardized lean management responsibilities,

and should make a big deal out of setting the example for everyone else


Leader Standard Work Video

Before getting started

Watch this training video

Video: Leader Standard Work

And you should have already completed the New User Training

because we are assuming that you already know how to use features that are common to all of your 150+ Systems2win templates.

testimonial quote


Personalize your

Leader Standard Work template

Make sure that you have the latest template

version release

In the top row of every Systems2win Excel template, you will find the Version number and Release number.

If your template is less than Version 18, then you are using an old template.

If your Annual Maintenance is current, then you can send us an email to request us to send you all new and improved templates that have been released since the last time that you purchased or upgraded.

Personalize your template for your routine tasks

Do not skip this step

Leader Standard Work Excel template

Each leader uses the (unedited) Leader Standard Work template (LSW.xlsx) as the starting point to create their own personalized template.

Your Systems2win Leader Standard Work template is designed to serve as a starting point for each lean leader to personalize and "make your own".


What to name it, and where to store it

Store your personalized template in a personal or team folder.

Do NOT store this template (that has been personalized for only you) in the Systems2win portal with the other master templates shared by everyone.

To avoid broken hyperlinks between related documents,

see document storage and naming conventions

Suggested filename for your personalized template:


If you save weekly documents electronically

(most people don't)

Most people will print their Leader Standard Work template each week, and then complete it in hand writing as they carry that printed sheet of paper everywhere with them.

In that situation, there might be no need to copy the template to create a unique working document for each week. You simply print the (unchanged) master each week.

Or even if you personalize your master template each week before printing it, (perhaps greying out holidays, hiding rows for monthly tasks that don't need to be done this week, etc.), then you still might only save a temporary copy of your master template, which can be routinely deleted, rather than saving a permanent electronic archive.

If you are an office worker completing your Leader Standard Work electronically, or for any other reason you choose to save a new electronic working document each week,

then the suggested filename for each weekly document is:


where YYMMDD is Year, Month, Start Date.

Now that you have saved your master template in an appropriate folder, you can continue to...

Personalize your template for your routine tasks

Follow the usual instructions for how to personalize your own working document from any Systems2win master template.

Unhide the (hidden) 'Template' sheet.

Personalize it for your unique routine responsibilities.

Edit the columns for days of the week

If you work Monday through Friday...

there is nothing to do.
That's the default way your template is delivered.

If you work a different 5 days a week...

simply overwrite those headers
with the days that YOU work.

If you work less than 5 days a week...

simply hide a column

Leader Standard Work with 6 day week

If you work more than 5 days a week, or you and your coach agree to use 1 sheet per month (instead of 1 sheet per week), then see training for Advanced Personalization

Edit the left side of the sheet for your unique responsibilities

Leave the check boxes blank, and don't write anything in the blank space that is reserved for your hand written notes.

To provide optional details for any checklist item, you have several options:

  1. Use indentation
  2. Use the Hide Rows feature to optionally hide rows of details before printing your checklist

    See training video for Hide/Show Rows

  3. Use a Link Icon to link to a related document for details
Leader Standard Work template

Save and store your personalized template

Do all of the usual final steps to personalize any Systems2win master template.

Save and store your personalized master template in your chosen folder.

Review your proposed Leader Standard Work template with your Coach, and obtain approval.


Now you are ready to start using your

Leader Standard Work form

At the beginning of every reporting cycle, generate a working document

(a reporting cycle is usually a week)

Usually, you will simply print your Leader Standard Work template, and you will then carry that printed form with you everywhere that you go, and fill it out in handwriting.

Useful tips:

Like every Systems2win master template, you should keep your 'Template' sheet hidden.

And then each week when you click the button to 'Open a Blank Sheet', you will be (safely) editing temporary weekly differences on a COPY of your hidden master sheet, with no risk that you will mess up your (still hidden) master 'Template' sheet.

When you want to edit your master 'Template' sheet with permanent changes... then unhide it, make your (permanent) changes, and then remember to re-hide that 'Template' sheet before saving and overwriting your master template workbook.

Open a Blank Sheet

Before printing each month, perhaps make a few temporary edits.

Maybe grey out or hide columns for days that are holidays this week.

Maybe add some one-time tasks.

Maybe hide rows for monthly activities that don't need to be done this week.

You will usually save this temporary copy of your master template in any temporary folder, where you can simply delete it after you print it.

(without affecting your master template that is still in pristine condition to copy as the starting point for next month)

Leader Standard Work grey cell

Use dropdown list
for gray cells

Hugely useful feature: Hide or Show Rows

Any row that is marked 'TRUE' in the Hide Rows column
can be instantly hidden or unhidden when you use the button to 'Hide / Show Rows'

You might use this feature to include many rows of 'memory jogger' details that you can unhide whenever needed,

and yet hide those details right before you print your weekly checklist (so that you are only carrying 1 or 2 sheets of paper with you everywhere)

Video: Hide or Show Rows

If you are an office worker,

then you might choose to fill out your Leader Standard Work electronically.

See the text box above for 'What to name it, and where to store it'.

If you choose to track your leader standard work electronically, however,

then it is essential to print a summary sheet
that serves as a highly visible signal of work completion
in the visual accountability board that is easily seen and accessed by others.

(The principles of lean visual management absolutely reject electronic documents that are invisible to everyone that does not have access to your personal phone or computer.)


Every day


Use your printed Leader Standard Work sheet
to keep track of routine tasks that were completed on time.

Hand write a check mark for every successful completion.

Hand write an X for every 'miss'.

In the (blank) section for Abnormalities and Countermeasures, there should be a hand written explanation for every 'miss', and hand written notes for ANYTHING that is an abnormality.

Also hand write any countermeasures that you attempted to solve problems, and ideas for tasks to later transcribe to your Team Accountability Board, and questions and ideas to discuss with your coach.

Leader Standard Work template

Unlike production standard work documents,

(which are often revision-controlled documents meant to be read, not edited),

leader standard work templates are designed to be highly personalized daily checklists that are designed to be carried around and used as a checklist to remind each lean leader of their daily and weekly responsibilities.

More than a checklist, a Leader Standard Work form is where a leader can document daily notes, observations, requests for action or follow-up, and action items to later transfer to the team's Accountability Task List bulletin board.


On a regular coaching cycle


At the end of each reporting cycle (usually daily, and certainly not longer than than weekly), each leader submits their completed Leader Standard Work form to their direct report manager

In keeping with the principles of lean visual management systems, the act of delivering daily leader standard work might consist of slipping it into a clear plastic folder hanging on a visual display bulletin board, thereby signaling completion of that day's leader standard work, and storing it in a central, public place where it can be easily found and reviewed by others.

If the supervisor is not in the same physical location, then an electronic version might be emailed to the supervisor.


As part of their regularly scheduled meeting...

(which shows up as a task on the leader standard work documents for both mentor and learner...)

in sensei-apprentice fashion, the learner and coach review the standard work, and discuss things like:

  • Tasks that were missed, and why
  • How to make routine responsibilities easier, more effective, and more reliable
  • Unusual circumstances, or things you weren't sure how to handle

    Perhaps returning (again and again) to Hansei questions to stimulate Lean Thinking


As part of their regular gemba walk together (usually weekly)...


Every lean tool needs
a corresponding
Lean Coaching System


the lean leader and coach will briefly review the entire week's results, looking for patterns that could reveal systemic sources of interruption that might prompt action items to be added to the Accountability Task Boards at the appropriate team, department, or value stream level.

The week's checklists are then archived to remain available for possible later review looking for longer term trends.

Continuously improve


As you continue to get better and better at what you do over the weeks, months, and years...

continue to personalize and improve your Leader Standard Work in ways that make you more and more effective.


Standard Work is layered

from the bottom up

Leader standard work is intentionally designed

to focus multiple layers of attention on the same process.

Here's an example to help you understand how this might work...

The Team Leader's Standard Work

might prescribe the Team Leader to add a new line of data entry into the Production Tracking Log visual management system every Pitch Pulse Cycle (for example, every 30 minutes), and (importantly) to add clear and complete notes to explain the reasons for any misses.

The Department Supervisor's Standard Work

might then prescribe the Department Supervisor to spot check and add her initials to that Production Tracking Log every 2 hours. And the supervisor's standard work prescribes leading a brief daily stand-up meeting with her team leaders, where part of the regular agenda is to review any of yesterday's misses, and ensure that appropriate action has been taken or initiated.

Multiple Layers of Standard Work

Top layer = Leader Standard Work,

which includes next-level management review of lower manager's standard work

Accountability Task Board

systematically ensures accountability for completing assignments

Multi-tier daily stand-up meetings

where misses are routinely assessed, ideas are routinely solicited, and action items assigned

Visual Controls

show expected to actual results, with clear reasons for every miss, and red/green coding that a newcomer can understand 10 feet away

Standard Work for the production process

to ensure that everyone does it the same (best) way every time

Bottom layer = the Production Process itself

The Value Stream Manager's Standard Work

might then prescribe the Value Stream Manager to spot check and add her initials to that same visual management system Production Tracking Log once a day, and lead a brief daily stand-up meeting with her Supervisors, where part of the regular agenda is to review those same yesterday's misses, and ensure that appropriate action has been taken or initiated at the appropriate level (team, department, or value stream/supporting roles).

The top-level manager or executive's standard work

might then prescribe the senior leader to spot check that same visual management Production Tracking Log whenever she visits that work area, and to lead a brief regularly-scheduled meeting with her Value Stream Managers and Supervisors, where part of the regular agenda is to discuss the biggest problems or opportunities that have emerged from all of this focused attention on the all-important production process.

In this way, standard work is layered

to ensure multi-layered focus on the processes that produce the results which is the most challenging aspect of the transition
from a traditional results-only culture to a lean results-and-process-focused culture.

In other words...

If you earned your MBA from a college that teaches MBO (Management By Objectives), then you need to unlearn what you were taught, because that's not the way things work in a lean organization. In a lean organization, every level of management focuses on both: Results, and the Processes that yield results and Leader Standard Work is one very common way to ensure that every leader does exactly that.



Advanced Personalization

for your Leader Standard Work template

Columns for days of the week

If you work more than 5 days a week...

Copy the entire 'Tue' column, then select the entire column where you want to insert a new one, then right-click 'Insert Copied Cells'.

Tip: You might want your week to start and end based on your coaching review cycle. For example, if your weekly coaching session is Wednesday afternoon, then you might start your week on Thursday.

If you and your coach agree to use 1 sheet per month, instead of 1 sheet per week...

Option 1) Relabel those daily header cells to be Week1, Week2, Week3, Week4, Week5.

And then when you complete the Daily Tasks section each week, check the box if you successfully completed that task every day of that week. Or record a miss (or partial miss) if you missed any day that week.

Option 2) Add columns for 31 days of the month (labeled 1 through 31)

And then before printing your report each month, edit the template to either grey out or hide columns for scheduled days off.

Disadvantages of this option: There is very little space left for your hand written comments, and you will be trying to squeeze in an entire month's worth of notes, so you will end up using the back of the sheet a lot.

Leader Standard Work with 6 day week

Your template can have as many 'days of the week' as you need, and you can edit these header labels to say anything you want

Leader Standard Work - monthly

User-Defined field(s)

There is a hidden column between the columns for Start date and the first column for days of the week.

You can optionally unhide that column and use it any way you want.

Perhaps for Date, or Who, or Status... or anything else.

If you want more than 1 user column, copy it.
If you want to move it, move it.
If you want to add your own dropdown list, go for it.

LSW user field

Below the print area, there are also some rows for formulas.

There are pre-defined rows that count the total number of Misses, and Partial Misses.

Which are only useful for office workers who complete their Leader Standard Work electronically.

And there is a row that you can copy for unlimited user-defined calculations using everything that you know about familiar Microsoft Excel to write your own formulas to analyze anything that you and your coach find valuable.

Generate a Working Document

This is one of the few Systems2win templates that has a special button to Generate a Working Document.

Generate a Working Document

Advantages: You can then use that document on a pad, cloud, Mac, phone, or any other device that supports any version of Excel.

Reminder: Your coach should be discouraging you from using ANY form of electronic data entry for Leader Standard Work. Visibility is a non-negotiable requirement for Visual Management, and Leader Standard Work is supposed to be visual.

Disadvantages: That document will be stripped of advanced features, like Hide/Show Rows, and the ability to switch between language translations.

Anything else

You can personalize your Leader Standard Work template using everything you know about familiar Microsoft Excel, and everything that you learn about how to personalize any Systems2win template.

More than just a template

Your Leader Standard Work template provides a system for the leaders within your organization to:

  1. Personalize their own standard work — with all the power, flexibility, and familiarity of Microsoft Excel
  2. Do it in a way that is standardized, repeatable, and teachable — across a large enterprise that might span the globe


This Leader Standard Work template

comes with many other useful lean management templates

to empower every team member to improve every process




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