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  • 1.
    Ljungblom, Mia
    et al.
    Gotland University, Department of Quality Technology.
    Isaksson, Raine
    Gotland University, Department of Quality Technology.
    Leadership and employee commitment for quality management: a critical analysis of quality management literature2009Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Originality/Value

    Our research provides insights to an important field within quality management – how is the value of management commitment transmitted into methodologies?BackgroundCommon statements in quality management presentations are:

    - Leadership is necessary

    - It’s important for quality management to have engaged leaders and employees. One way of describing a quality management system is to see it as a combination of values, methodologies and tools. A question to study is which the methodologies and tools are that translate the leadership and employee commitment into action. The value of: “Committed leadership” is a core value in quality management. Another important value is: “Let everybody be committed”. These values could be seen as the values relating to human behaviour as in contrast to other values focusing on quality technology issues. The value of: “Let everybody be committed” tells us that it is important for employees to feel needed, to be able to take responsibility and to be informed – but how do these methodologies and tools look like?

    Purpose

    The purpose of this research is to carry out a critical analysis of the methodologies and tools that quality management proposes as support to the values of “Committed leadership” and “Let everybody be committed”.

    Methodology/Approach

    We have carried out a literature study of books commonly used in university courses in quality management. Focus has been on identifying methodologies that support the values “Committed leadership” and “Let everybody be committed”. We have also looked at other values and supporting methodologies and tools as defined in the “Corner stone model”, Bergman & Klefsjö (2003).

    Findings

    It seems that quality literature is not very clear on how to engage employees and how to motivate them. Preliminary findings indicate that quality management still is relying heavily on quality methodologies and tools supporting the value of decisions based on facts and the value on continuous improvement. Quality gurus like W.E. Deming and J.Juran have claimed that only 10-15% of the operational problems can be solved at the operational level with the rest being system and management problems. This could indicate that more focus should be on how employees can affect their work situation rather than teaching them quality tools. Quality methodologies and tools are only of help when management leads in such a way that employees are empowered and encouraged to do the right things willingly. When the literature for quality management is analysed we find that leadership issues are not taken up very much. Not more than about 2 – 5% of the pages in the literature deal with leadership. Also, focus of the parts dedicated to leadership is mostly on check lists for important things to do and to know as a leader – like motivation. But there is very little to read about in what way you can motivate your employees or how you can acquire the required leadership capability.

    Limitations

    The study is limited to the theories found in the most frequently used quality management literature in Sweden.

    Value

    The topic takes up important success factors for quality management – how to make practise out of the guiding values of management and employee commitment.

  • 2.
    Ljungblom, Mia
    et al.
    Gotland University, Department of Quality Technology.
    Isaksson, Raine
    Gotland University, Department of Quality Technology.
    Teaching leadership for improvement: a case study in distance learning effectiveness2008Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Background

    Leadership is the process of directing the behaviour of others toward the accomplishment of some common objectives. Leadership is influencing people to get things done to a standard and quality above their norm - and doing it willingly. Leading others is not simply a matter of style, or following some how-to guides or recipes. Ineffectiveness of leaders seldom results from a lack of know-how or how-to, nor is it typically due to inadequate managerial skills. Leadership is even not about creating a great vision. It is about creating conditions under which all your followers can perform independently and effectively toward a common objective. Leadership is also a never ending process of self-studies with the purpose to know yourself and your behaviour as individual and in a group better. Understanding group dynamics is essential in order to inspire employees into higher levels of teamwork. It could be argued that for any improvement, leadership forms the main resource basis on which success of change relies.

    Gotland University has during several years carried out well frequented distance courses in leadership. The typical student is a person with a degree working in some organisation, often in a managerial position. Course assessments have indicated appreciation and a high level of student satisfaction.

    Purpose

    The question is if leadership theories and methodologies learnt really are put into use when the course is finished. The main purpose of this research is to explore how current leadership teaching is transferred into practical use in organisations. Another purpose is to see how current management attitudes correspond with the main theories. The results will help to improve the understanding of the practical relevance of different parts of leadership theory. Additionally the role of pedagogy and contextual factors when putting leadership theory into practise are highlighted.

    Methodology/Approach

    An alumni database for former students is used for sending a questionnaire asking for the relevance of different topics. Focus is on seeing what parts of theory have been used and to what extent. Based on the first results from the questionnaire a number of interviews are carried out to find out more detailed areas of improvement relating both to what theory to focus on and how to learn. Additionally randomly chosen written reports from courses are used to identify current managerial behaviour.

    Findings

    Preliminary findings indicate that theories are being used, but that there is improvement potential (study is still in progress).

    Limitations

    The study is limited to the theories used in the current courses. Students are practically all mature students already working.

    Value

    Leadership is a practical issue and it is important to know that what is taught is relevant and that it is being used. This paper gives a good indication of the practical relevance of important parts of current leadership theory.

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