ISO 9001:2015 leadership battles – Advice from quality professionals [Global Quality Survey results]

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Amid tighter regulation, greater public scrutiny, and more requirements for Leadership to promote a culture of quality in ISO 9001:2015, it appears that quality professionals still feel a lack of commitment from their leadership.

The Global Quality Survey* results demonstrate that two in three quality professionals feel their leadership do not do enough to demonstrate commitment to quality. 

Despite this, 91% of quality professionals surveyed said that ISO 9001:2015 is relevant to their organisation.

So, what is going wrong? And how can we as Quality Leaders encourage leadership to make the necessary changes?




Why do so many quality professionals feel their leadership team are disconnected from their quality team?

“Leadership aren’t engaged with quality. They do it because they have to, not because they see the cost-saving potential."

(Karen Bayliss, Kartan Consulting)

“The rules are too difficult and boring. Quality brings little empirical value to the leadership role and they feel like their time is better spent elsewhere.”


“Leadership see quality as a necessary overhead, rather than a cost-saver.”

(Quality Leader at a global FMCG manufacturer)

“We’re only consulted when something goes wrong – we’re still a bolt-on at the end of a project, rather than integrated into the business processes,” 

(Quality Manager at a Textile Manufacturer) 

“Leadership only want a certificate on the wall.”


“It’s too easy for leadership to have an “over to you” attitude.”

(QHSE lead at an energy company)


So, what exactly should leadership be doing?



The New Leadership Game

The new ISO 9001:2015 standard gives quality assurance teams an opportunity to reiterate the responsibility of the leadership team and drive the management system to conform to the standard.

Do your leadership team know they must…

  • Inform everyone of the importance of the quality management system?
  • Tell everyone why they should participate in its effective implementation?
  • Ensure the quality policy and quality objectives are compatible with the strategic direction and the Context of the Organisation?
  • Promote risk-based thinking in respect of their organisation’s quality management system?
  • Make sure the management system achieves its intended outcome?
  • Ensure there are adequate resources to maintain the quality management system?
  • Ensure the effectiveness of the quality management system?

ISO 9001:2015 requires leadership to be much more involved with the quality management system. And it seems like these new requirements are ruffling a few feathers.

So, how can quality professionals get leadership to step up to the mark?  

The Key Issue

Advice Offered

No direct line to leadership

“The QP needs direct access to the executive team. In larger organisations, the executive team focus is on commercial effectiveness and productivity without necessarily addressing the link between implementation of an effective management system and operational performance. Be really clear what you want leadership to do.”

Jon Swift, Head of Compliance and Risk at TBS GB Ltd.

Leadership sees quality as a cost

“You need to demonstrate how quality improves customer experience and reduces churn.  Introduce quality awareness programs.”

Roger Van Beeck – RJS Management Services

Not speaking the language of the business

"I trained all my quality staff on business. It isn't about quality - it is about business. We speak a different lanugage from everyone else and expect them to understand. I find quality professionals are too focussed on quality and not on what everyone else is driving forward."

Dr. Patrick Druggan, Ipsen

Not knowing who is engaging with the system 

“We got Qualsys Ltd to do a health check of our quality management system. It helped us to understand how effective the quality management system is to our leadership team.”

Quality Manager – Thomas Miller

Different objectives / drivers

“You can win by tightly coupling Voice of the Customer & management engagement initiatives e.g. centralise actions lists and a complaints inventory.”

Former member of BNP Paribas Fortis

Lack of tangible objectives

“Raise awareness of quality and centralise all quality initiatives.”

James Mwathi, KTDA, Kenya

No single source of truth

“If you do not have a single source of truth, you are not doing your job. You need a central system to make it easy for your leadership team.”

Paul Isherwood, SHS Drinks

Not communicating

“Schedule weekly / monthly meetings demonstrating objectives and results.”

D Morgan, Echo Managed Services

Talking the language of leadership

“Many management teams want a certificate on the wall, so you need to use that to your advantage. Explain how to use the standard to benefit the company (not the certification body).”

Tommaso Plamitesta, Avanti Performance

Lack of accountability

“Layered process audits driven from top management allows them to see acts of non-compliance in day-to-day activity.”


Defining Leadership

"Quality professionals need to have leadership abilities (read Daniel Goleman on Leadership)."

Karl Pallister, Sapphire Ballustrades


What you should do now: 

If you would like more information and advice from quality professionals on the global quality survey results, sign up for the newsletter. 

Alternatively, learn how EQMS can help you win leadership engagement and accelerate momentum towards your strategic goals by requesting a demonstration with one of our experts here. 

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Topics: GRC Leadership, Tools, Customer Success

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