The role of leadership in ISO 9001 is very important. So important, that it is treated as one of the Principles of Quality in ISO 9000 and has an entire chapter in ISO 9001.
Revisions to ISO 9001 emphasize the success of a quality management system through leadership and commitment from the company’s top management, which, according to Annex SL is “(the) person or group of people who directs and controls an organization at the highest level.” Moreover, it requires top management to authenticate and prove that it actively engages and undertakes main quality management system actions.
It is important to note that the 2015 version expanded the concept of leadership for all levels within the organization and considers all managerial positions as key players in this undertaking.
Top management has a main objective of unifying purposes, direction and commitment of people and allows an organization to align its strategies, policies, processes and resources to achieve the objectives.
Like in any project, the leader must delegate responsibility, measure results and define actions, and it is no different with ISO 9001 implementation. In the quality management system, leadership is key.
Below is an example of the activity requirements that top management must participate in:
- The establishment of a quality policy and quality objectives aligned with the strategic direction of the company
- Participate in the analysis of the internal and external context
- Participate in the identification of needs and expectations of all stakeholders
- Identification and analysis of business risks, as well as risk treatment actions
- Definition of organizational objectives
- Communication of the policy and strategies of the company
- Establish a leadership culture of trust and integrity
- Participate in critical analysis meetings
- Provide the necessary resources for the quality management system, infrastructure, people, and training
- Define the organizational structure of the company
As can be seen, the active involvement of top management is crucial when it comes to achieving a successful, effective and efficient quality management system.