Frequently Asked Questions: Why don't you have a leadership certification?
Why don't you have a leadership certification?This is one of the most common questions our leadership team is asked. Most ASQ divisions create a Body of Knowledge (or BOK) as a basis for certification on a specific area or topic, usually of a technical nature. Our division is not confident that a leadership certification would substantiate that someone is a good leader. While a person with a technical certification (i.e., CQE) will likely be able to operate successfully, there is far less of a guarantee that a person with the requisite knowledge can be an effective leader. We believe that an effective leader combines three key attributes:
- Knowledge: Effective leaders must possess relevant and necessary knowledge about how people improve (what we refer to as human development) as well as self, team, and organizational leadership concepts and theories.
- Experience: Effective leaders gain experience with these concepts through applying their knowledge and making adjustments to achieve their desired outcomes – knowledge alone will not make an effective quality leader.
- Personal Qualities: Effective leaders understand how to capitalize on their own inherent personal qualities and strengths in developing and honing their own leadership style.
While we could provide knowledge, our division has limited ability to provide opportunities for our members to gain leadership experience. Therefore, leadership experience would likely need to be gained by individuals in their current or future roles.
In addition to knowledge and experience, an effective leader needs certain personal qualities, such as curiosity, courage, and integrity. It is important to note Deming was more of a moral philosopher than methodologist (Baker, 2016). While our teaching addresses these issues, we are not ready to certify the moral fitness of others. We believe that studying the theory, tools, and methods in the ten categories that make up our body of knowledge will provide a strong foundation or enhancement of a person’s ability to lead when they possess these personal qualities and have the opportunity to gain experience. And remember, the three attributes constitute a system. If any one of the three components is missing, the system will not function.
Simply put, we believe that becoming an effective leader is an iterative development process. As we gain knowledge, we then apply that knowledge in real-world situations in a manner that fits our personal qualities. We learn from those experiences and often seek out more practice (experience) or more knowledge. This development process repeats throughout our evolution from quality professionals to becoming quality leaders and cannot be measured through examination.
So if there is no certification, then what?
Fundamental to developing quality professionals into effective leaders is translating that knowledge into capabilities and desired behaviors which often begins with an awareness of one’s own natural tendencies, characteristics, and strengths. This development process is an iterative process and is often best done in real-world situations with real-time feedback and coaching.
Several years ago, and in response to ASQ member feedback, HD&L rolled out a 1-on-1 mentoring program designed to connect ASQ members with an experienced quality leader who can advise them on achieving their career goals through a structured yet personalized process. This effort was aimed at providing the experience component of our equation. However, we began to recognize this requires an individual to have self-awareness, a desire to improve, and a willingness to take the initiative to apply to the program.
We knew there had to be a way to reach more of our members and help organizations develop their workforce to face the challenges of today’s work environment and prepare for tomorrow. We felt like something more could be done...that something was missing. After much discussion, we determined a competency framework focused on quality professionals and leaders might be the missing piece and certainly could complement our existing mentoring program.
Baker, E. M., The Symphony of Profound Knowledge: W. Edwards Deming’S Score for Leading, Performing and Living in Concert. iUniverse. Kindle Edition, 2016.