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Leadership: meaning and characteristics in ISO 9001

Do you inspire or give orders?

If you could choose, would you like to be more like Roberto Mancini or José Mourinho?

Are you closer to a strong leader who orders his underlings what to do with determination, or do you try to inspire your group by setting an example?

Do you create motivated and united teams that play as a squad, or do you focus on the man who makes the difference?

You may prefer a set of capable but uncooperative co-workers or a team of trusted companions, aligned to your objectives and who work as a team, that is, aiming to reach shared goals.

Don't worry, there is no right answer. What matters are your goals.

The climate that is created in the company is fundamental for growth and is entirely in your hands, in the hands of the leader.

Indeed, the second principle for an effective management system is precisely that: leadership!

Let's see what the ISO 9001 standard suggests in this regard.

Today we’ll be discussing:

Among the principles of 9001

Paying attention to leadership, as already mentioned for customer focus, is essential to develop the perfect management system for your company.

If you want to view the article regarding customer focus, click here.

Why? Stay with me.

Leaders are those who lead, those who at all levels establish unity of purpose and direction and create conditions such that people are committed to achieving the goals of the organisation.

In the beautiful Italian language, it is called Direzione, precisely because that role is necessary to give direction, to align the behaviours, beliefs and culture of all members of the organisation.

The leader is the one who pushes his team towards common objectives aligned with the policy, the captain of the ship who knows which direction to take and shares in the work with their co-workers.

In short, we are all familiar with the countless representations of the leader figure. At least once in your life you will have seen something like this while scrolling through your LinkedIn.

This role is essential because only thanks to the ability to create unity of purpose, direction and commitment is it possible to allow an organisation to align strategies, policies, processes and resources to achieve its objectives.

Imagine a ship whose crew does not know its destination, timing, methods, roles and short-term goals - will it arrive at its destination as planned?

That's why, after suggesting that you cultivate customer focus, the ISO 9001 standard strongly suggests that you also have leadership!

What sets a leader apart?

Many different styles of leadership are described in literature.

However, there are common traits we can identify.

A leader typically acts with respect for all roles and their expectations.

Indeed, they usually:

  • Enable collaborators to achieve results;

  • Focus on the person to enable them to perform the activity entrusted to them as well as possible;

  • Inspire staff by achieving expectations;

  • Delegate and take responsibility for dealing with the strategies in place.

Leadership therefore involves dialogue (passion and teamwork), trust (transparency) and consensus management.

Concrete actions to take

So, are you an effective leader or not? And how can you improve?

A first step is to take into account needs: not only your own or those of the business, but of all the people involved and stakeholders.

Then defining a clear vision of the future helps your co-workers to have a clear roadmap and aligns the different perspectives, behaviours, and objectives.

Designing and sharing vision, mission and company policy together with the staff will allow you to achieve real emotional involvement among your employees.

The objectives must be stimulating, and the code of ethics, the common thread of all company activities, must be shared and appreciated at all levels.

A leader must also be able to build trust, infuse co-workers with energy and dispel fears.

Obviously, resources are essential, and you need to know how to provide the right training to allow employees to specialise and grow professionally.

Like a good parent, the leader must also know how to evaluate their employees in a fair and impartial manner. They must therefore set an example and practise what they preach.

Align actions and thoughts!

What kind of leader do you want to be?

As Antonello Bove says in his Italian book "77 competenze di management":

-What is winning leadership? There is no single winning form of leadership. -

The same person can embody several behavioural styles or choose just one and make it their own.

To come to our aid, Bove schematically shows us what the most characteristic and distinctive behaviours of one type of leader compared to another may be.

The two coordinates, which represent the dividing line between the different behaviours, are what Bove calls the Task, that is the low or high propensity to directly manage activities, actions and decisions, and, by contrast, what he calls Relationship, representing the propensity to orient and set goals that allow for a "favourable and productive morale".

Regardless of styles, a leader must surely have many key characteristics, including charisma.

Bove focuses on this, pointing out:

-It is certainly a plus, which must be used intelligently, without slipping into the realm of arrogance that makes you lose credibility. -

The importance of delegation

How many operational activities do you carry out in a month? And how many strategic activities?

You know that the correct ratio should be 80%/20% and no, the 80% does not refer to the operational activities, but the strategic ones!

Could you imagine an entrepreneur with dozens of companies doing the invoices, or running a construction site?

Without detracting from the importance of each activity for the achievement of objectives, it is important that the leader's role deals with strategy.

How can you do this? Simple: delegate.

Fight the belief that "If I do it myself it'll get done faster".

It may even be true, but if you don't learn to delegate, your company will never grow, because to grow it also needs a leader and if you don't lead, who will?

Creating a mental outline of the types of activities to be delegated can help. For example, the following activities can certainly be delegated:

  • Things that do not fall within your own competencies (if you don't know how to do it, you cost more than someone else who does know how to do it);

  • Activities related to areas with regulations that change frequently (they involve too many specific and varied skills);

  • Activities that steal resources (time) from business growth (yes, even things you really enjoy);

  • Activities we want our team to learn;

  • Anything we hate doing (improves our enthusiasm).

What matters is time.

How many and which delegable activities use up our time?

Understanding how much and what time is used for activities with little added value for the growth of the company is the first step.

By the way, the same thing is also true in your private life😅

How would you improve yourself as a leader? Write it in the comments! ✍


ISOFAIDATE and the seven principles of quality

In the next issue we will talk about Active staff participation, the third principle of quality management. To stay up to date, subscribe to our newsletter.

If you want to read the first and second post of the column, you can find them here:

See you soon!


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