The Twelve Principles of Leadership: Principle Six

During a twelve-day period of time, I will be posting daily one of the Twelve Principles of Quality Leadership followed by some questions you, as a leader, may wish to ask yourself.

Hopefully the description and inquiry will cause you to think about how you lead and what you may need to do to improve your leadership.

 And don’t forget to post some commentary. It can be a learning process for us all.

Welcome aboard!


Systems, Leadership, and Teams




We will never get creativity and innovation from our employees when we tell them they cannot make mistakes.  All that we know about people tells us that creativity is chilled and repressed in such an environment.  It is not easy to accept honest mistakes.  The price we pay for zero defects, however, is zero creativity.  Many of us have been working together for many years.  We all remember each other’s mistakes and failures.  Without forgiving and forgetting we will never be comfortable in the workplace.

If we don’t permit honest mistakes new ways and ideas will never be tried.  It’s simply too risky in an authoritarian organization. Quality and creativity is the result of a constant process of trying and improving.


a. How do you see quality and creativity being related?

b. How would you encourage more creativity in your employees?

c. What barriers might you encounter?

d. What would be the steps you would take to creatively improve a system and overcome those barriers or obstacles?

e. What is an honest mistake?  How would you demonstrate leadership to your employees in these situations?

[From The New Quality Leadership Workbook, by Couper and Lobitz. To be published this year.]


  1. “What barriers might you encounter?”

    People stealing other people’s ideas

    Nitpicking every little mistake like it was a felony and nitpicking an idea to death where it never gets off the ground.

    Not giving the people the training and time to help them considering the fact not all workers and managers start off with having the same st of job skills and opportunities to develop and use them. You look at computer companies where the people who work there have more chances to use the computer to create complex graphs, charts, spreadsheets, formulas, etc.

    Trying to get people to use their brains considering the fact that their creativity and intelligence have been squash for years. It is like trying to re-ignite a burn tree when all of it has been burn up or there is very little fuel left to start a fire.

    Your successors keeping the process for the long term when you and your people are gone to other things in life.


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