Today, quality in products and services is a given. Customers are increasingly aware of their choices, and as a result quality has become assumed if an organization seeks to survive. Quality performance has peaked globally, resulting in the face of quality shifting from the front-line employee to the corporate leader.

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As quality continues to evolve, the question becomes, “how do we shift the ‘definition’ of quality to reflect quality leadership?” If we refer to Deming’s quality methods, there are some clear indicators as to how we can connect quality principles to leadership principles. Deming’s Quality System is based on what he called “Profound Knowledge” – calling out four interrelated and inseparable aspects of quality that act as a critical foundation:

1. APPRECIATION FOR A SYSTEM – Every business consists of many parts that make up the whole. It is important that you recognize that by considering the whole (the system), rather than just the isolated part(s) you may be responsible for, your organization can actually outperform its individual parts – optimizing resources and opportunities as a united whole.

2. KNOWLEDGE OF VARIATION – As a leader, you need to understand variation and how it impacts your business. Too much variation is never good, while, at the same time, it is a clear indicator of where you need to focus attention to grow and transform your business.

3. THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE – Information and knowledge are fundamentally different. Information, no matter how complete, is not knowledge. Most organizations are swimming in oceans of information, whlle knowledge is not quite as prominent. What you need, as a responsible leader, is the kind of knowledge that provides highly reliable predictive power. Knowledge allows you to strategically see the whole picture, not just your piece of it.

4. PSYCHOLOGY OF CHANGE – Change is inevitable. Understanding and influencing the psychology behind the change will help you to maximize positive interactions within your organization. You have the capacity to introduce constructive change within your organization, focusing on creating understanding and buy-in to change, including and involving members within the system to optimize your results.

“Profound Knowledge” provides a lens through which you can develop quality leadership to optimize your business and achieve success. In addition, here are some (not all) of Deming’s “14 Points for the Transformation of Business & Management” that have the capacity to help you build quality in leadership in your organization:

As a leader, it is your responsibility to provide clear messaging as to the impact of constantly improving your products, services, policies and processes.

Think about your current philosophy on leadership – What is your philosophy? Does it encourage change and innovation? Is it proactive and carrying your organization, and your people, forward in a succinct direction?

Consider your organization as a system. What are you doing to ensure continuous improvement within the system? Are your improvements consistently decreasing costs and increasing productivity?

Your goal as a leader should always be to help your people and your organization do a better job. With leadership comes accountability… if you are noticeably accountable for the results of your organization, you are a leader who walks the talk… demonstrating a fundamental leadership necessity.

Drive out fear in your organization, so that everyone can work effectively for the organization. Fear is not a great motivator – it destroys innovation, creativity and trust.

Break down barriers between teams, departments… all lines of business. Everyone in the system needs to be able work cross-functionally, as a team, to foresee challenges and maximize opportunities across the enterprise.

Ensure you facilitate a vigorous program of education that provides for various modes of learning: On the job training, live-teach courses (internal and external), online courses, mentoring programs, coaching and self-improvement programs. Different people learn in different ways – provide a path for everyone to learn and grow.

As you institute change or even transformation, involve as many people as possible. You will get different perspectives and insights – the whole is always more than the sum of its parts.

Just as TQM is timeless and applicable to all organizations, so is quality in leadership. Bear in mind, true quality of any sort takes time, commitment, focus and work –  Quality Is Not An Accident! Despite the commitment, if you do the hard work, the results are huge, and multiply exponentially over time.  Quality (as a whole) works – like a secret weapon – increasing your odds of achieving sustainable success.

How Will You Institute Quality Leadership In Your Organization?

Please engage the discussion and let us know how networking can help you to exceed your potential. Feel free to contact me at, by visiting my blog at Leadership Across Boundaries & Borders, stopping by our website at Luminosity Global Consulting Group or checking out my new leadership portal at The Global LABB.

3 Responses

  1. Sheri, thanks for the insightful article. I enjoyed it. If quality is not an accident then where within this article can we place issues like risk taking and trust in leadership? I know we have constantly improve the systems (innovation) but where can place taking calculated risk so as to garner quality leadership? Another important aspect is what Steve Covey stated on trust. Where can we fit in such issues especially when trying to make teams jell and also cutting costs?

    1. Thought provoking response, Jonathan! For me, inherent in innovation is taking calculated risks. As far as leadership, trust must be earned – it is not a given. If the leader is of a high quality, your trust will not be misplaced. However, I also recognize this is often not the case. You have to realize you can not control other people, but you can certainly control how you respond to them. You may not have an ideal leader, an optimal team and be consistently asked to cut costs – how you respond to these challenges will reflect your quality as a leader.

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