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The Personality Needed to Influence Quality January 21, 2014

Posted by Tim Rodgers in Communication, Management & leadership, Organizational dynamics, Quality.
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I’m not convinced there’s an ideal personality type for any specific job. I’ve seen many different kinds of people make strong contributions and achieve results. That being said, I don’t think you can effectively influence people if you’re a bully. You might be able to compel people to do what you want through the force of your personality, or because they fear the consequences of doing something else, but I don’t believe that’s a long-term motivator. Good leaders understand that you can be assertive and persistent and persuasive without crossing the line.

I think this is a particular problem in the world of quality. It’s usually easy to get people to fix quality problems after they’ve occurred, but a lot harder to prioritize quality before the event (the exception being anything that’s required to satisfy regulatory or other “must” requirements). In all other cases, quality is something that will be balanced against cost, or schedule, or other important business considerations.

Given that environment, I don’t see how being a jerk is going to help. Preventive quality requires the cooperation of everyone in the delivery chain, and should be backed-up with a clear-headed and objective analysis of risks. Past failures can be used to remind people of the implications of under-valuing quality, and of course the causes of those failures should be identified and (ideally) eliminated. However, putting people on the defensive or assigning blame is not the way to improve quality.

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