Tracey directions, values, and expectations should balance all














Tracey Branch


UCLA: 355780:
Managing Project Quality

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Michelle Obama: TQM Leadership


December 3, 2017

              During my
tenure in this class, I’ve often asked myself “what makes a good quality
management plan?” Is TQM about assurance and making good decisions? In my
opinion, quality starts with “speaking truth to power” while doing the
important work behind the scenes.  Great
leaders inspire individuals for generations to come to deliver quality, and
innovation irrespective of time in history. In today’s globalized communities,
more and more female leaders are emerging. 
Most recently one women’s quality leadership utilizing transformational
techniques has captivated the world. In this paper, we examine the former First
Lady of the United States, Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama.

Defining Quality Leadership

              Arguably one of the most prolific first ladies of our
time. Michelle Obama has made her mark. What makes Michelle a quality
leader?  Let’s first define quality

              The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award of United States definition of leadership as stated
in its core values and concepts, visionary leadership is: “An organization’
senior leaders should set directions and create a customer focus, clear and
visible values, and high expectations. The directions, values, and expectations
should balance all needs of all your stakeholders. Your leaders should ensure
the creation of strategies, systems, and methods of achieving excellence,
stimulating innovation, and building knowledge and capabilities. The values and
strategies should help guide all activities and decisions of your organization.
Senior leaders should inspire and motivate your entire workforce and should
encourage all employees to contribute, to develop and learn, to be innovative,
and to be creative.

              Senior leaders should serve as role models through
their ethical behavior and their personal involvement in planning
communications, coaching, development of future leaders, review of
organizational performance, and employee recognition. As role models, they can
reinforce values and expectations while building leadership, commitment, and
initiative throughout your organization.” 
Total Quality Management by Dale H. Besterfield).





              Another definition of a quality leader is someone who puts
the principles of Total Quality Management (TQM) into action.  Leadership uncommitted to the quality control
process is less likely to be effective. Organizational leadership to take
quality management next level must have the passion, strength of will, and
necessary knowledge to position the firm in the best position to succeed.  (Source:
The Role of Leadership in Total Quality Management (TQM) by Justin Mrotek)


              In essence, Mrs. Obama has embodied all of the tenets
of quality leadership as demonstrated by her introducing the Let’s Move
Initiative; a ten billion dollar, 20-year program initiative focused on putting
children on the path to a healthy future during their earliest months and
years; giving parents helpful information and fostering environments that
support healthy choices; providing healthier foods in our schools; and, helping
children become more physically active. 
(Let’, 2016)

               Providing access to education, Mrs. Obama
launched “Let Girls Learn”, a two-billion dollar pledged funded initiative to facilitate
educational opportunities for adolescent girls in 50 developing countries was
launched in 2015. (

2011, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden came together to launch
Joining Forces, a nationwide initiative calling all Americans to rally around
service members, veterans, and their families and support them through
wellness, education, and employment opportunities. Joining Forces works hand in
hand with the public and private sector to ensure that service members,
veterans, and their families have the tools they need to succeed throughout
their lives. (,2016)

 Conflict Resolution and Quality Leadership

a leader’s strength and competence in conflict resolution is chief among the
most important factors contributing to a successfully lead team, organization
or government. 

good conflict resolver must be able to discern between situations that require
boldness and situations that require mediation. 
Not all inflammatory speech requires “fire and fury”.  Early on during the first term of her
husband’s presidency, the new first lady was branded as “abrasive” and a potential “liability.” Yet, at the
same time, even with the intense criticism swirling, her children and family
were consistently well-regarded and her parenting praised.

on the quality as a measure of good leadership, Mrs. Obama took calm action,
listened to her audience, absorbed the feedback and pivoting her brand message
away from noise and on to the outcomes that were important to her clients, the American
people.  By de-emphasizing her career and
educational success she rebranded herself as “America’s Mom in Chief”. Creating
a space for collaboration by emphasizing her family-friendly values, she gained
favor with many of her biggest opponents: GOP-conservative women. 

example of Michelle Obama as a quality focused leader involved her methods for resolving
conflict.  Combined with her motivational
style to inspire by word and deed was her timely and universal response to
injustice anywhere as she spoke about how as parents–she and then President
Obama advise their daughters in her 2016 Democratic National Convention speech:

…” That is what
Barack and I think about every day,” Obama said, “as we try to guide and
protect our girls through the challenges of this unusual life in the spotlight.
“How we urge them to ignore those who question their father’s citizenship or
faith. How we insist that the hateful language that they hear from public
figures on TV does not represent the true spirit of this country. How we
explain that when someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to
their level. 

“No, our motto is, when they go low, we go high.”


Quality leadership and TQM

              Quality leaders are transformational.
Transformational leaders use the tenets of visionary leadership to gain their
followers allegiance; although the two leadership styles are linked; visionary
leader whose primary focus is the future will have a transformational
motivational style because transformational leaders motivate followers by definition
by how the individual followers will grow and/or develop while achieving the
vision.  Transformational motivation is
the action to the vision.  

How effectual
was Michelle Obamas leadership and motivational styles; to find let’s review
the progress achieved by her primary three initiatives:

              The Let Girls Learn program
initiative launched in 11 countries on March 3, 2015.  Lead by the First Lady and the 44th
President in partnership with the Peace Corps with US funding only but by March
18, Japan pledged $340 million, June 16, the United Kingdom pledged $180 million,
July 31 Tanzania
and Malawi through USAID joined, October 13, 11 public and private agencies
pledge dollars and resources, and the momentum continued as the program grew to
support girls learning in 50 developing countries and a 5-year $2.5 billion
dollars investment from the World Bank. 
Although the current administration has cut the program and threatens to
end it entirely, the world is fully engaged and no matter US government
participation the fight to let girls learn will continue.  (,
2015-16) (,2016) Thanks to the leadership of Michell Obama and her team.   

              The Let’s Move! Program an
initiative launched in 2010 dedicated to helping kids and families lead
healthier lives, established the first-ever Task Force on Childhood Obesity to
develop a national action plan to mobilize the public and private sectors and
engage families and communities in an effort to improve the health of our
children.  Before it was abandoned by the
current administration the initiative Transformed the school food environment
through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which updated school meal nutrition
standards for the first time in 15 years and increased funding for the first
time in 30 years.  Key takeaways of the
program are:


Modernized the Food and Drug Administration’s Nutrition
Facts label for packaged foods
Launched the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate
and MiPlato, easy to understand icons based on the five food groups
Increased access to fruits and vegetables through Let’s
Move! Salad Bars to Schools, providing 3 million students with a salad
Started Let’s Move! Active Schools so kids could attend
schools that strive to make 60 minutes of physical activity a day the
Partnered with the U.S. Olympic Committee to provide
beginner athletic programming to more than 1.7 million kids in 2012 and
nearly 2 million kids in 2016
Updated the President’s Challenge Youth Fitness Test. Expanded
the mission of the President’s Council on Fitness and Sports to include
nutrition, changing the Council’s name and increasing the number of
Council members from 20 to 25.
Created Let’s Move! Outside in collaboration with the U.S.
Department of Interior to encourage kids and families to take advantage of
America’s great outdoors.
Championed over 225 corporate commitments and
partnerships with First Lady Michelle Obama as the honorary chair of the
Partnership for a Healthier America, a nonprofit helping the private
sector make the healthy choice the easy choice.
Leveraged the power of marketing through three signature
campaigns to encourage Americans to consume more fruits and vegetables and
drink water. Together Sesame Workshop and the Produce Marketing
Association promote kids’ fruit and vegetable consumption through eat
brighter!  …and More!!!  (Let’sMove!.gov,2016)


First Lady Michelle
Obama and Dr. Biden launched Joining Forces in 2011, the unemployment rate for
our 9/11 generation of veterans was more than 12 percent, and almost one in
three of our youngest veterans who wanted to work could not find a job. In
August 2011, the President challenged the private sector to hire 100,000
veterans and military spouses. In 2016 the First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr.
Biden announced that since the launch of Joining Forces, more than 1.2 million
veterans and military spouses have been hired or trained as a result of ongoing
outreach. Today, the unemployment rate for veterans is lower than the national
average. (OBAMAWHITEHOUSE, 2016)



Mrs. Obama in
consort with her husband embody not only quality leadership talents but their motivational
styles complement each other.  He speaks
of hope and change (Quality) while she motivates with family focused, friendly,
relatable initiatives every American can support (Transformational).   Over
the course of two terms Michelle Obama’s charismatic personality, intellectual
prowess, approachable relatability, and clearly communicated vision has
mobilized not only her team followers but men, women, and children in everyday
life, global leaders and thought giants internally to do more with less for
all.  In essence, Mrs. Obama as a transformational/quality
leader opened the white house as a home to Americans’ and made our families and
children a priority with healthy eating and get moving programs.  She jokes around with us on Social Media and Television
even dancing the “Dougie” with talk show phenom Ellen DeGeneres.  We the world love her because she loved us
back and we the world admire and appreciate her contributions because she leads
us with a vision of quality we all understood and motivated us with our “why’s”
and we took action.