Leadership Requirements

ISO 9001:2015, clause 5.1, states that top management must demonstrate leadership and commitment with respect to the quality management system.

Top management is defined in ISO 9000:2015 as the person (or group of people) who directs and controls an organization at the highest level. Top management has the power to delegate authority and provide resources within the organization.

We should remember that a Manager administers, controls, and directs; a Leader influences, motivates, and inspires trust.

The sub-clauses of clause 5.1.1 state that top management must demonstrate their leadership and commitment by:

a) taking accountability for the effectiveness of the quality management system;

This means to be responsible for its activities, be able to explain its results, and be answerable for the expected results. Although some responsibilities and authorities may be delegated, top management remains accountable.

b) ensuring that the quality policy and quality objectives are established for the quality management system and are compatible with the context and strategic direction of the organization;

The quality policy and quality objectives may be established or reviewed during meetings of top management, such as those for strategic planning or management review purposes.

c) ensuring the integration of the quality management system requirements into the organization’s business processes;

In other words, the processes necessary to address the requirements should be integrated and managed within the overall business processes, and not treated as add-on or conflicting activities.

d) promoting the use of the process approach and risk-based thinking;
For example, ensure the effective interaction between processes, with a systematic approach designed to achieve effective flow of inputs and outputs and cooperation in addressing risks and opportunities.

e) ensuring that the resources needed for the quality management system are available;

This will require monitoring the current and projected workload and schedules to ensure that adequate resources, e.g., persons, funding, tools, and equipment are provided, when and where needed.

f) communicating the importance of effective quality management and of conforming to the quality management system requirements;

The value and benefits of the quality management system, and adhering to its requirements, can be communicated through internal meetings, email, personal discussions, organizational intranet, etc.

g) ensuring that the quality management system achieves its intended results;

An organization can do this by monitoring the system outputs, and at times, taking actions to correct or improve the system or its component processes. Top management should ensure that whatever actions are needed are properly assigned and resourced.

h) engaging, directing and supporting persons to contribute to the effectiveness of the quality management system;

Communicate with employees to encourage them to contribute to the system results. Top managers can serve as the champions of projects when improvements are needed, and encourage employees and others to participate as members of improvement teams.

i) promoting improvement;

Ensure that information and recommendations from management reviews, audits, and other evaluations are provided to the responsible persons for improvement considerations. Also, provide feedback to employees on the value and benefits of enacted improvements.

j) supporting other relevant management roles to demonstrate their leadership as it applies to their areas of responsibility.

This activity could include mentoring and supporting other managers to make specific decisions which may help the organization conform better to requirements, or to drive improvements.

IATF 16949:2016

The automotive quality standard, IATF 16949:2016, uses ISO 9001:2015 as the base for its requirements, but adds the following Leadership requirements:

Corporate Responsibility
Top management must define and implement corporate responsibility policies, including at a minimum an anti-bribery policy, employee code of conduct, and ethics escalation policy (whistle-blowing policy).

Process Effectiveness and Efficiency
Top management must review product realization processes and support processes to evaluate and improve their effectiveness and efficiency. Include results of the process review activities as input to the management review.

Process Owners
Top management must identify process owners who are responsible for managing the processes and related outputs. Process owners must understand their roles and be competent to perform those roles.

Organizations using ISO 9001:2015 should consider adding these extra policies for their quality management system.