Beyond the Textbook: What a Life Coach Taught Me About Leader Standard Work

Since I began working as a continuous improvement practitioner, I have seen and internalized the benefits of standardization to reduce variation and create predictable outcomes. This standardization should occur beyond the front-line level and include leadership.

After over 15 years of facilitation, project support, and coaching, I’ve seen relatively few examples in healthcare of leaders using standard work to increase their effectiveness, productivity or outcomes.

In the past, when I or my colleagues suggested it as the next step for leaders improving themselves or holding their teams accountable to improvement, a common reaction from leaders was, ‘Why write down what I am already doing? What is the value? This seems like a waste to me.’ I couldn’t answer their skepticism with confidence.

Only when listening to a recent podcast by Life Coach, Brooke Castillo did the depth and value of Leader Standard Work finally resonate with me. Brooke has developed a model called that is represented by the acronym CTFAR. It is a way to process and understand negative emotions or unwanted results you are experiencing.

The model is the following:

Circumstances: Neutral facts that occur in our lives. Something 20 people would agree on. (Example: It is raining.)

Thoughts: What you think about those facts. (Example: I hate rain.)

Feelings: An emotion created as a direct result of our thoughts (Example: Sad, depressed.)

Actions: Our behavior created as a direct result of our feelings. (Example: Stay inside. Don’t go out.)

Results: The effect of our actions. (Example: Isolation, lack of connection.)

Brooke’s idea is not a new one, but the translation of the idea into the simple and easy-to-understand CTFAR model is a new way to process and make sense of our lives.

When I heard about and started learning and applying this model to my daily life, I realized and felt the connection to Leader Standard Work. Leaving thoughts and emotions aside for a moment, reflect on your actions. How you spend your time? Are your actions creating the results that you want?

The CTFAR model led me to reflect on Leader Standard Work and its relevance. Our day to day behaviors create the results we are getting now – in terms of employee engagement, patient satisfaction, financial outcomes, quality scores, the relationships we have with others, the value and contribution we bring to our organizations, to the world. How we spend our time matters. So, the exercise of creating and enhancing standard work is really an exercise of reflection. How am I spending my time now? What results am I getting? Are these the results I want? What value do I bring to the organization? What is my purpose as a leader? How does this purpose play out day-to-day in my behaviors – in how I spend my time?

If you’re not getting the results you want, then prioritizing those goals, and connecting your daily work to those goals is a way forward.

1 Comment
  • Stacy
    May 27, 2019 at 11:14 am

    Keep on working, great job!

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