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What Is Total Quality Management Leadership?

Marlene Garcia
Marlene Garcia

Total quality management (TQM) leadership refers to top managers of an organization responsible for implementing a system to improve customer satisfaction. The total quality management philosophy starts with company owners and high-ranking managers committed to getting work done right the first time. It’s a process that includes developing a plan to improve delivery of products or services, and implementing that plan throughout the organization.

Managers charged with total quality management leadership put the customer at the center of a system so every interaction occurs in a reliable and timely manner. The main concept communicated throughout the company hinges on meeting customer expectations every time. Meeting these goals might give the company an edge over competitors, eliminate the cost of correcting mistakes, and increase productivity.

Total quality management ensures customers receive both high-quality products as well as excellent service.
Total quality management ensures customers receive both high-quality products as well as excellent service.

To be effective in total quality management leadership, managers typically write a mission statement outlining the principles, values, and beliefs of the organization. They ensure the mission statement is shared and understood by every person employed in the firm. Leaders also develop strategies for implementing plans to improve customer relations and explain these techniques to lower-level supervisors.

One factor that determines total quality manager leadership effectiveness centers on the ability to gain acceptance of these principles from all employees. Senior managers who serve as good role models for subordinates might see more success in motivating others to embrace a TQM system. They are responsible for ensuring every employee embraces the concept and commits to change.

Educating and training employees represents another facet of total quality management leadership duties. Managers typically provide resources and tools to help staff members reduce the number of errors in their work. This training might change attitudes that accept errors as part of doing business into a culture of striving for excellence. Training might foster pride in the workplace, leading to zero tolerance for mistakes throughout the company and a sense of teamwork.

The total quality management leadership team also monitors the process and makes adjustments as needed. Managers periodically evaluate the success of the plan to learn what works and what needs improvement. When changes become necessary, leaders make sure communication remains open to allow employees time to adapt.

Some companies employ total quality management principles when working with suppliers. Interactions with suppliers of goods needed to produce the final product might ultimately affect customer satisfaction. Using suppliers who understand and buy into TQM concepts might help reduce waste and lost time. Firms might also obtain supplies in a more cost-effective way.

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Discussion Comments


@SkyWhisperer - If you want suppliers who buy into TQM, the reality is that you get what you pay for. In other words, you’re probably not going to get dirt cheap goods. You’ll have to pay for quality. That’s certainly not a bad thing, but just something to keep in mind, especially in manufacturing where they’re trying to keep costs low.


@everetra - Training is everything. I’ve worked for many companies in my life, and many of them have a “sink or swim” mentality when it comes to training.

One company however stood out as a model of excellence. From the very first day on the job, everything was clearly documented and outlined for me and I underwent detailed, thorough training.

It was an excellent way of easing me into my position and made my work there less stressful. I recommend high quality training programs to keep employees motivated and of course to ensure that their work is stamped with quality too.


@MrMoody - How can we deliver on time and under budget? Project managers deal with this question all the time. Too often from what I’ve seen project teams complete their projects late, and over budget. This is the death knell for many projects and for many project managers’ careers as well.

At our company we face this issue at all times, and one of the things that we focus on is making accurate estimates for delivering on projects. If we can forecast more accurately how long it will actually take to complete what we’re working on, we won’t under deliver. This is something that could benefit from total quality management I think.


I wholeheartedly agree that one of the most important facets in determining the success of TQM is employee buy in. Employees have to buy in to the philosophy that you are advancing or you won’t go anywhere.

Unfortunately employees tend to be a cynical bunch, so if leadership will exemplify the quality control commitment then the employees will jump on board. They will begin to develop excellence in every aspect of their work.

This will trickle down to every part of their work, and ultimately it will affect the customers as well.

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    • Total quality management ensures customers receive both high-quality products as well as excellent service.
      By: Lisa F. Young
      Total quality management ensures customers receive both high-quality products as well as excellent service.