Quality is one of those things which may be hard to define. Someone once said “I can’t define quality, but I know it when I see it”. That’s the way it is with quality management/leadership. So, instead of developing a universal definition, we will look at traits and behaviors of folks and let you develop your own definition. I’d be interested in what you come up with.

Boss/Manager: The term manager, leader and boss are often used interchangeably. However, their roles and behaviors are dramatically different. A boss is one that commands and controls. To “boss someone around” is not complementary, but derogatory and degrading. Bosses direct and order others about, instead of managing and leading. They set the standards, check the work and create a tense atmosphere. They use coercion, stimulus- reward and fear as their motivational technique. The undercurrent thinking is that managers and leaders always get what they want plus a little more. Getting what you want plus some, does not define a boss, manager or leader.

Webster’s definition for manager is, “A person who manages”. This only tells us what a manager does, and not their characteristics. So, let’s look at the definition for manage. Manage, according to Webster is “To train, to control movement or behavior of, to have charge of, to direct, conduct and administer”. You can see with words like ‘control, have charge, direct’, that many folks think managers and bosses are the same. A manager however, is not the same as a boss.

The main difference between a manager and a boss is in the areas of administration, conduct and training of subordinates. Some people are in management positions, but do a lot of bossing. Why? Most managers and other folks firmly believe that people can be made, through a reward, punishment and fear system to do what they want them to do. Remember Dr. Glasser’s statement in the unit on ‘Understanding Yourself and Others’, “You can’t make someone do what they don’t want to do”? My addendum to his statement is, “you can, but not for very long, and not without a lot of lost production, frustrations and emotional tramua”.

Quality Manager/Leaders

There are many definitions for leader. Even if you don’t have a finite definition for one, you probably have a picture of one in your mind which you try to emulate. Commonly, a leader is thought to be someone that directs and commands a group or activity. Someone that is strong, charismatic, forceful and energetic, in other words not a leader, but a boss or manager similar to an athletic coach or military person. Webster’s definition for leader is “to show the way (teach), to go before or along with as with a guide”. Notice no coercion or “carrot and stick technique” or fear, but instead teaching and guiding. Another definition for ‘leader’ is pioneer or shepherd.

Quality managers/leaders teach, go before and show the way, similar to a pioneer or shepherd. Alaska is enamored with the pioneer spirit. That spirit was one of understanding and helping. Pioneers understood they were “breaking new ground”, and that conditions were rugged at best, to say nothing about being cold. Since everyone was in the same environment, helping one another was a necessity. Helping one another was practiced because you know at sometime in the future you would also need help. However, with the passage of time our pioneering spirit of helping is diminishing.

John P. Kotter in his book ‘Leading Change’ points out that leadership and management are two distinct yet complementary systems of actions. The following summary points out some of those differences.

  • Management is about coping with complexity: leadership is about coping with change.
  • Management is about budgeting for complexity: leadership is about setting the direction for change through the creation of a vision.
  • Management develops the capacity to carry out plans through organization and staffing: leadership aligns people to work toward the vision.
  • Management assures the accomplishment of plans through controlling and problem solving: leadership motivates and inspires people to want to accomplish the plan.

Along the same lines of Mr. Kotter’s contrast between manager and leader, Mr. Warren Bennis, quoting Sir William Sims, in ‘Training’ magazine lists the following contrasts:

  • ….1. Managers administer —  Leaders innovate.
  • ….2. Managers maintain —  Leaders develop.
  • ….3. Managers focus on systems —  Leaders focus on people.
  • ….4. Managers rely on control —  Leaders inspire.
  • ….5. Managers take the short view —  Leaders take the long view.
  • ….6. Managers accept the status quo —  Leaders challenge it.
  • 7. Managers ask how and when —  Leaders ask what and why.

Here are some traits for quality manager/ leaders as presented by Toastmasters Inc.

  • ….1. Promotes a vision.
  • ….2. Admits mistakes.
  • ….3. Stays close to the action.
  • ….4. Has fun in their work.
  • ….5. Criticize others only in private.
  • ….6. Makes others feel importent.
  • ….7. Follows the golden rule.

Note how all three authors emphasized the importance of vision. Quality managers/ leaders are folks that engage people in honest discussions. They listen and ask advice. They respect the individual. Here’s a little acrostic which summaries characteristics of a quality leader.

A leader is one who:

  • ….L.= listens – learns – leads.
  • ….E.= encourages – envisions – enriches.
  • ….A.= advises– advocates –accomplishes.
  • ….D.= discusses – develops – devotes.
  • ….E.= empowers – enlightens – energizes.
  • ….R.= responsible – recognizes – rewards.

Now let’s look at a couple examples why the stimulus/response motivational technique doesn’t work for long. Let’s say your two year old child refuses to eat their peas and carrots. You say “if/when you eat them, you will get a treat”. The treat is usually dessert. The first time the stimulus may work. However, the next time around it doesn’t go as you had hoped. Of course the child knows the treat is dessert, and continues to be obstinate and not eat the peas and carrots. The drama continues and escalates. Your stimulus changes from something pleasant to a demand. I said “eat your peas and carrots”! The two year old continues to escalate the drama even more, and finally they wear you down. The child gets the dessert, but skips the peas and carrots. Stimulus/response doesn’t work for two year olds or anyone else.

Most public school systems use the stimulus/response technique. For example, if you correctly regurgitate on a test what was said in the lectures you will get a gold star or even an “A”. You may not have learned anything of value, but just relied on short term memory to pass a test. Schools fail when students are coerced to learn using stimulus/response) rather than leading, mentoring and demonstrating how education adds quality to one’s life. The learning process is a continual process, and isn’t limited to scholastics. The quality of life for many students would be enhanced by leading, mentoring, and demonstrating. We must also assist folks in taking their place in society through trades ,vocations and careers. (Note: quality of life is not dependent on wealth, good health, position or pedigree, but on learning, helping and trusting relationships.)

The stimulus/ response technique is deeply ingrained in our psyche, even though it doesn’t work. Instead of mentoring, demonstrating and educating it relies on insentive ( greed) as the motivator.

Enough philosophy, take a look at a contemporary quality leader which changed the entire corporate culture of Japan, and impacted how the U.S. does business, while doing away with the stimulus/response technique. Prior to World War II, Japan was noted for manufacturing cheap, imitation products. The United States, after the war, sent Dr. W. Edwards Deming to aid Japan in rebuilding their economy. His focus and vision was transforming that nation into a world leader for producing quality products. He instituted a process which focused on employees, training and empowering the work force. His book titled ‘Out of the Crisis’ discusses his famous Fourteen Points for obtaining consistent quality.

Dr. Deming was a statistician and employed data in monitoring processes. His model does away with the traditional stimulus/ response style of management. He pointed out producing quality is a continuous circular, four step process.


  • ….1. Plan what you’re going to do.
  • ….2. Do what you’ve planned.
  • ….3. Check your results against the plan. (Use data).
  • ….4. Act to modify the plan to improve its quality.

Dr. Deming also demonstrated that by training employees in the process, empowering them, driving out fear, and keeping relevant data in front of the employees, resulted in consistent quality. My thinking at one time concerning production and quality consisted of only three words, which you had to know ‘ forwards and backward’. They were “Plan your work / work your plan”. It wasn’t until the last two of Dr.Deming’s four steps (check and act) were incorporated that continuous quality improvement materialized.

Dr. Deming’s fourteen “must do’s”, and his seven “deadly diseases” (listed below) point out, what leaders must inculcate in order to insure continuous quality improvement. These points are dramatically shown in his “red bead” drama/ exercise. Dr. Deming in this exercise, takes the role of the typical response/stimulus manager. The workers (randomly selected from the audience) are given thorough training in the process of “making red beads, not white ones”. Bead counters and inspectors record the number of red beads each “employee” makes.

The process is to correctly insert a paddle into a basin of thoroughly mixed one hundred red and one hundred white beads. The paddle holds only a fixed number of beads. The paddle is removed from the basin by the employee, and the red beads are counted. The employee with the greatest number of red beads after three rounds of effort is rewarded. The employee with the lowest number is fired. The employees, after each round, are once again trained and told the job was to produce “red beads not white ones”. Obviously, no matter how hard the employees tried the process always gave random results. Training, rewards, or the fear of being fired made no difference. Employees had no say in the process, even though they knew it was flawed.

Dr. Deming explains his management theory of quality and continuous improvement by showing that processes are what must be improved. Each and every process must be documented and religiously followed. This results in consistent quality, than ‘Plan, Do, Check Act‘ again and again. The process and empowerment of employees are what eliminates costly and unnecessary rework of products, and results in consist quality.

Dr. Deming didn’t much care for the term ‘Quality Management’, he preferred ‘Quality Leadership’. His entire life style was that of a servant leader and not just a quality/leader. He developed a fourteen points list of actions which leaders ‘must do’ in order to insure continual quality improvement. He also formulated the ‘seven deadly diseases’, which are fatal to any organization.

Fourteen “must do’s”

  • 1. Create a constancy of improvement of product and service. Research, innovation, and continual improvement is  mandatory.
  • 2. Adopt the new philosophy. No longer put up with poor quality and bad attitudes. These are unacceptable.
  • 3.Cease dependence on mass inspection. Quality cannot be inspected into a product. Rework from any faulty product is expensive and unsatisfactory. Quality comes from the process.
  • 4. End the business of awarding business based on price alone. Seek quality and value, and establish long term relationships.
  • 5. Improve constantly and forever systems of production and service. This is leadership’s responsibility
  • 6. Institute training. This is extremely important! Most workers are not taught their job.
  • 7. Institute leadership Find out what leadership is, and do it. It is not giving orders or threatening. It is leading, helping, facilitating.
  • 8. Drive out fear. Workers may fear their boss and of making suggestions.
  • 9 . Break down barriers between staff areas. Get people working together as a team.
  • 10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets form the work force. They do no good and are viewed by
    workers as worthless.
  • 11. Eliminate numerical quotas. Quotas signal that volume counts and not quality.
  • 12. Remove barriers which rob people of pride in what they do. Everyone wants to do a good job. Processes and
    training prohibit it.
  • 13. Institute a vigorous program of education and self improvement. Education of any kind will broaden a person’s
  • 14. Take action to accomplish the transformation. Involve everyone. A transformation takes time and a diligent effort.

Seven Deadly Diseases

  • 1. Lack of consistency of purpose. You must have a vision and long range plan and stick with it.
  • 2. The emphasis on short-term profits.(Goals) Long term objectives and not quarterly profits are what is important.
  • 3. Evaluation by performance, merit ratings and annual reviews. Promote team work not individual accomplishments.
  • 4. Mobility of management. Change in a management philosophy creates instability.
  • 5. Running a company on visible figures alone. (counting the money) Decisions made not knowing the unknowns or unknowable.
  • 6. Excessive liability costs.
  • 7. Excessive medical cost.

Look at the U.S. economy today and you can see how the ‘ seven deadly diseases” have infested our corporate business processses. The Deming Library has a full selection of videos and DVD’s, including the Red Bead scenario. Check it out on the web. ( www.managementwisdom.com/drdemvid)

You’re probably asking yourself, “If quality management/leadership is so good why isn’t it used more”?? There are two simple reasons. The first being it’s hard to change old habits, because it takes time and a lot of effort. Secondly the big one, Greed or wanting/getting more now! A friend of mine once described greed. “Get all you can, can all you get, and then sit on the can”. That’s greed pure and simple, and it has no part in quality management/leadership.

The next Chapter is the one all the other units have been building up to ‘ Servant Leadership’. To return to the previous chapter click here. Understanding yourself and others.

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