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Understanding ISO 9001:2015  

5.1    Leadership and commitment 

5.1.1    General 

This version of the ISO 9001 standard has significantly broadened the role of top role in demonstrating leadership and commitment in ensuring the success of the QMS. It uses words like accountability, ensuring, promoting, communicating, engaging, directing, supporting, etc., to encompass a broad spectrum of QMS activities that it must demonstrate its leadership and commitment to.  

The QMS activities themselves that top management must demonstrate leadership and commitment are covered in detail in other parts of this ISO 9001 standard. In this clause, we are only concerned with top management’s role in each of them. 

Let’s take a closer look at what these words mean in the context of ISO 9001 requirements: 

Demonstrate : means to show; to prove, make evident, display, explain, exhibit, illustrate, substantiate, to provide reasons for. ISO 9001 requires top management to demonstrate by these means its role in fulfilling the requirements specified in clause 5.1.1.a-j.  

Leadership: is a process of creating a work environment that motivates employees to do their best in performing their functions and take a proprietary interest in producing quality products or services. Leadership must be provided by top management. 

Top management may do this by inspiring and harnessing the thoughts and behavior of personnel to focus their collective efforts towards the achievement of the organization’s mission, goals and objectives.  

The successful implementation of desired leadership techniques is crucial for effective QMS implementation and sustained business success. 

Top management: is defined by ISO 9000 as the person or group of people who directs and controls an organization at the highest level.  

Management is defined as the act of getting people and resources together to accomplish desired goals and objectives efficiently and effectively.  

Management comprises planning, organizing, staffing, leading or directing, and controlling an organization for the purpose of accomplishing the organization’s mission, goals and objectives.  

Commitment : by top management means providing leadership, resources, support, taking ownership and facilitating the success of implementing and maintaining an effective QMS. To encourage buy-in from employees in using the QMS effectively, top management must clearly demonstrate that they are behind it one hundred percent in word and deed.  

Now that we have clarified the terminology, let’s take a look at each of these requirements. Subclauses5.1.1.a–j lists the specific requirements that top management has responsibility and accountability for.  

In my eCourse “Understanding ISO 9001:2015” I devote nearly 10 pages explaining these responsibilities and specific actions that top management must take to address them.  

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Understanding ISO 9001:2008