Leadership and the Malcolm Baldrige Quality Award

By Deb Manzo.

For the third straight year, Leadership Excellence magazine has named the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to its list of the “top 10 leadership development (LD) programs” among U.S. government/military organizations. Leadership Excellence was founded in 1984 by management experts Ken Shelton, Stephen R. Covey, Ken Blanchard and Charles Garfield. The magazine chooses its top leadership development programs from more than 1,000 candidate organizations based on seven criteria: vision/mission; involvement and participation; measurement and accountability; curriculum; presenters, presentations and delivery; take-home value; and outreach.

With the plethora of readings and research on leadership, I was curious about leadership from the Baldrige perspective. Dr. Harry Hertz, director of the National Baldrige Performance Excellence Program writes:

“good leaders are balanced in their perspectives, knowing when to zoom in and zoom out. They are agile, enabling them to be responsive to unexpected events and crises, and yet they have a vision for the future. That vision is shared with employees and key stakeholders. They are engaged with employees and customers and learn from them while also looking for innovations that lead to new customers and markets, going beyond current customer product enhancements and ideas. They are not afraid to act quickly but leave time for reflection. They are mentors to future leaders and concerned about succession planning for long-term sustainability. They are prepared to and do zoom in to address current problems and then zoom out to put the situation in perspective; to see patterns, trends, and cause-and-effect relationships; and to project the impact on future performance.”

Visionary leadership is a Baldrige core values and portrays senior leaders as direction setters that creates a customer focus, clarifies and makes visible the organizations values, and creates high expectations for the workforce. Leaders ensure the creation of strategies, systems, and methods for achieving performance excellence, stimulating innovation, building knowledge and capabilities, and ensuring organizational sustainability. Leaders inspire and encourage the workforce to contribute, develop and learn, be innovative, and embrace meaningful changes. Leaders are role models that reinforce the values, commitment, and initiative throughout the organization.

How do your leaders stack up to Baldrige?