Role of Leadership in Improving the Level of Firms’ Business Excellence

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Introduction
Juran (as per Sosik & Dionne 1997) stated that management commitment is pertinent to every successful quality revolution, and that no exceptions are known. This paper will focus upon the role reported in literature that leadership plays in the improving an organisation’s level of business excellence (BE) from the implementation of the initiative to the point whereby continuous process improvement is a natural function of daily business. The paper will review research conducted upon BE as achieved through the European Foundation for Quality Management’s (EFQM) Excellence Model as well as through Total Quality Management (TQM). There exist countless models for implementing TQM within organisational literature. For simplicity, this report focuses on Deming’s teachings and notably the role leadership plays in improving a firm’s level of TQM through the application of aspects of his 14 Point philosophy. The first section of the research paper will discuss the relationship between BE and TQM and will then deal with the multi-faceted role that leadership plays in both the implementation and driving of BE initiatives within an organisation. The final section will provide a brief summary of theory behind the ideal leadership style that drives BE throughout an enterprise. The review of literature will show that there is no single managerial method to achieving improvements in BE and that the primary characteristic of leadership success is its dynamic ability to ingrain a BE ideology within all levels of the organisation and eventually disseminate leadership vertically throughout the enterprise. While a variety of definitions of the term, “business excellence” have been suggested, this paper will use the definition first suggested by Savolainen (2000) who saw it as superior business performance that is gained through competitive advantages. This is a concise interpretation of the definition provided by the EFQM of Outstanding practices in managing the organisation and achieving results, all based on a set of fundamental concepts or values including: Results orientation;

Customer focus;
Leadership and constancy of purpose;
Management by processes and facts;
People development and involvement;
Continuous learning
Innovation and improvement
Partnership development
Public responsibility
Savolainen’s focus on competitiveness is a natural consequence of increasing strategic importance of quality within organisations and is more relevant within the context of this literature review considering the inclusion of TQM as a means to improve BE. Leadership is defined as a process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task (Chemers 1997). This report will pay particular attention to the fundamental antecedents required for successful implementation of a persistent quality ideology to drive BE and will highlight major challenges using theoretical and case evidence.  Business Excellence Overview

There exist numerous frameworks and models for the achievement of BE, notably the EFQM Excellence Model and the Australian Business Excellence Framework. Literature reports a significant relationship between the use of BE principles and practices against performance across a set of balanced measures (Armitage 2002), regardless of the use of prescriptive framework.
Source: EFQM
There is overwhelming agreement as to the imperative nature of strong organisational leadership in pursuing change of any kind within an organisation, and the successful implementation of a BE ideology is no exception (Beer et al 1990, Mezias & Glynn 1993). This concept is documented in literature (Beer et al 1990, Mezias & Glynn 1993, Savolainen 2000) and visible in the critical part ‘leadership’ takes in the EFQM Excellence Model as a primary enabler. Relationship between TQM and BE

The stated objective of the EFQM is to supply organisations...
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