Leadership for Quality: Does it Make a Difference?

Nadeem Mustafa Khan

Year:    2011
Category:    Healthcare Quality
Source:   ICQI 2011 – Pakistan`s 12th International Convention on Quality Improvement & 2nd ANQ Regional Conference

Publisher:   PIQC Institute of Quality

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Regional CEO, Aga Khan University Hospitals, Karachi, PAKISTAN


Quality is defined as fitness for use – where the product or service displays what the customer always gets what he expects and wants. This is achieved through two components : Product features and freedom from deficiencies. The outcome of fitness for use is dramatic for the company – in its bottom-line and reputation. Quality management is achieved through focus on the processes, focus on the customers, using data and people-centered approach to achieve useful outcomes. Leadership for quality comes from how leadership sets the stage in :

  • Defining the organization’s mission and values
  • Setting the direction for the future
  • How close the leadership is to customers, employees and suppliers
  • How leadership sees the role of the company as a member of society – in health and safety, environmental protection and corporate citizenship.

The various quality models – ISO 9001, Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, Deming Prize, etc. place emphasis on the role of leadership for quality. Essentially, the leadership initiative is about creating and influencing an organization’s culture – a culture which focuses on values, direction, human development, results – infact overall excellence. And this creation of culture requires the ability to accept and create change. For effective leadership which is the ability to influence the action of others, 4 simple things ought to be known:

  • Leaders must have followers. Without followers, there can be no leaders.
  • An effective leader is not someone who is loved or admired. Popularity is not leadership. Results are
  • Leaders are highly visible. They, therefore, set examples.
  • Leadership is not rank, privileges, titles or money. It is responsibility

Most leadership models balance between roles of relationships vs tasks (Blake and Mouton) or different styles based on situations (Hersey and Blanchard) or key traits for a successful leader – integrity, competence, example, initiative, conflict management, etc. (Muhammad Asad)
The leadership provided by the last Messenger of Allah (SAW) was indeed unique. And the Quran praises it and strongly commands it to be followed as an example. The keys remain that all knowledge comes from Allah – thru’ the Quran and His Prophet (SAW) in the Hadith – and that we create a culture of Islamic values. Indeed the organizational culture has to be based on Tawhid, Belief in the Hereafter, reward and punishment, responsibility and
accountability, consultation, justice, dignity and respect, caring and sharing, justice, trustworthiness, value of time and moderate spending. And the Prophet (SAW) provides a role-model for that in all aspects. There are plenty of simple examples that are to be practiced in our daily lives from his life and they will make a real difference for us.
Indeed the quality of leadership is the decisive factor between an average and outstanding performance. If leadership is provided in a true Islamic manner, an Islamic culture will prevail in the organization, one that will provide all the Barakat that a truly outstanding organization aims for.