Are You a Quality Leader? Do a Check Up: Part III

images-5The following are principles 7 through 9 of the 12 Principles of Quality Leadership.

I suggest you use them in this way: Read the principles and deeply look at yourself and your department. Then answer the questions.

What have you learned?

What are you going to do about it?




This is a fundamental principle regarding people. It should help us to look at how we view our employees. Do we believe that they can be trusted, are mature adults and want to do a good job Or do we believe that they are untrustworthy, immature, and want to avoid work This principle causes some supervisors and managers a great deal of difficulty. They have trouble accepting the notion that they should trust their employees. Let’s look at how many of your employees are in the first group and how many are in the second We believe 95% of our employees fall into the first group and 5% or less fall into the second group. For too long, the actions of the 5% have dictated the rules and policies and how the organization is run. We believe that the actions of the 5% should not dictate how the rest of the employees are treated in the workplace. Five-percenters should be responded to in a prompt and fair way. Rules should not be written based on the behavior of the five percent nor should the department be run as if all employees were in the five percent group. The five percent must, however, be dealt with and not ignored. We have all heard a great deal about the need for consistency and fairness in the disciplinary process. Being fair is more important.

  • What rules or policies do we have that should be modified, changed, or even eliminated according to the 95/5 rule? How could they become more positive?
  • Is there a need for a policy manual in an organization run on the 95/5 rule? What would be the function of the policy manual in a quality organization?
  • How would you attempt to improve the performance an employee of yours who is in the five percenter?

Continually monitor the systems you are responsible for to improve the quality of the process and, ultimately, the quality of the output. Leaders have responsibility for the improvement of systems — this is creative and important work. In the past, we have emphasized that the job of a manager was to watch over, maintain and inspect systems. No more. Our job today is to improve these systems — continually, incessantly and forever. If we see our job as inspecting systems we can be replaced by a machine — a computer. Our employees also see that kind of work as being not important. If we see our job as the improvement of systems we cannot be replaced by a machine — only creative and caring people can do this kind of work and our employees know it. This is also a good human behavior rule. People don’t like to fail. When they do, it is wise to look at systems first. Only after systems are examined is it fair and safe to examine how people may have failed. We should be trying to get at the root of the problem, not attempting to fix blame on an individual. If a system is out of control it is only a matter of time before the next employee gets in trouble.   The solution is to fix the system. Leaders work on the system; employees work in the system. Standards need to be set, feedback given and control limits established. There will be variation in performance but it should be within the established upper and lower control limits. Variation is a fact of life and to be expected. Those who fall below acceptable performance should not be punished. Our JOB is to ascertain what they need from us — training, encouragement, support, feedback — in order to get them into the range of acceptable work performance.

  • Think of three instances of an employee in trouble. Which situations appear to be a result of a system problem and which instances appear to be a person problem?
  • How would you approach an employee who is having trouble because of a system problem? How would you approach an employee with a person problem? How are the two approaches different? How do you know which problem is the result of a systems problem and which is the result of a person problem?

We should avoid the use of coercive power whenever possible. When we use it we should remember that we all pay a cost in its exercise — giver and receiver. The best decisions are those in which we all participate and concur. The next best are those decisions in which everyone is asked for their input before something is decided. Of course, we will have occasional no discussion decisions in our work. When we do, we should make a commitment to our employees that we agree to critique those decisions whenever possible. Tom Gordon in Leader Effectiveness Training, illustrates the costs to leaders who use coercive power to get the job done: costs of time, enforcement, alienation, stress and diminishing influence. There is also the cost of making a less-than-quality decision because communication and information between employees and leaders who use coercive power is greatly reduced.

  • Describe a situation in the workplace in which coercive power was used to get you to do something.
  • How did you feel? Why do you think you felt that way?
  • What are the best ways to get others to do what you would like them to do?
  • How can you avoid using coercive power and avoid having your leaders use it on you?

These principles and much more can be found in The New Quality Leadership Workbook For Police, by David Couper and Sabine Lobitz ($20.00, published in 2014 and contains over 201 pages).