Total Quality Marriage [TQM] at Home and Work

Michael Foster, M. A. (301-668-9965)

I would not want anyone to get the idea that I have had or have a total quality marriage at home and work. In fact I am still in the process of continuing to learn how to continuously improve my work and my marriage. I expect to continue continuously learning as I go along. The truth is that I spent more time on my marriage at work, so that I could afford my marriage at home. I did learn some things at work that helped at home. I am learning some things in my spiritual journey that helps at work and at home. I am encouraging everyone who reads this to take it easy and be gentle on themselves and have fun with this information. Learning takes place better when we are really having fun.

When I worked for the U. S. Navy, we started with a continuous improvement process called Total Quality Management [TQM]. The Navy then changed TQM to Total Quality Leadership [TQL]. The term leadership was an improvement over management. Management is where everything is under control. Leadership is where no control is needed because of the healthy leadership.

The ways I was formally taught leadership in Navy courses was very healthy. In fact I saw a continuous improvement over the years on how bosses started to grow into leaders. One factor was the fact that the headquarters training group continued to give world class courses on the fundamentals of leadership in all their courses. I saw that their courses had a positive effect, over time.

The good news is that everyone can be a leader without conflict. The bad news is that you can only have one boss or you have conflicts. You can have a healthy team working, when everyone is leading and everyone is not bossing. That is what makes a Total Quality Marriage, where ever there is a team of leaders and no boss.

That is not what the world generally teaches. The world often teaches bossing and blaming, the opposite of leadership. Leadership is all about learning caring, leading, laughing, and respecting.

Part of what the Navy taught, was derived from W. Edward Deming, and he had some profound information. His information had revolutionized Japan, so much that we were losing market share to their companies. Then our companies decided to listen to what Deming had been telling them all along, and we began to improve our market position.

Deming had 14 points and a suggestion to learn profound wisdom and psychology. The most fundamental of Deming's 14 points was to drive out fear. Government and business were not ready to listen to something like "Perfect love casts out all fear." So, he gave them something to do, that they could understand, driving something out. At some point they are going to need to grow to accept unconditional positive regard as something that works. The reason that they need to learn is because unconditional respect is more productive and works a lot better. Organizations become weller, wiser, and more willing as they learn unconditional positive regard instead of blaming. Unconditional respect and fun is showing up in the bottom lines. That is why it works at home, as well as work. The bottom line is that showing respect and leading in cooperation, works better than bossing and coercion.

The fundamentals of what really worked in the Navy and Japan and U. S. companies are fundamental of what works anywhere. The fundamentals that really work at work, will really work at home. The fundamentals that do not work at work, will also not work at home.

The best expression of the difference between leading and bossing I have found is in the preface to William Glasser's book Quality Schools. It goes like this:

"A boss drives. A leader leads.

A boss relies on authority. A leader relies on cooperation.

A boss says "I". A leader says "We."

A boss creates fear. A leader creates confidence.

A boss knows how. A leader shows how.

A boss creates resentment. A leader breeds enthusiasm.

A boss fixes blame. A leader fixes mistakes.

A boss makes work drudgery. A leader makes work interesting."

Anyone wanting to do real team working and team leading would do well to refer to these differences often. The lessons in Quality Schools are the same lessons for marriage, church, work and any organizations. I recommend this book for anyone interested in improving their leadership and their spiritual growth.

"A boss drives. A leader leads"

How does one lead? One way is by example. I always heard what my parents did, not what they said. People can easily change what they say. They do not easily change the patterns of what they do, until they grow some more. Growing some more means learning how to give unconditional positive regard some more, so that we can reduce negative emotions and fears. Then we will have more loving in our leading. Both the old and the new testaments told of the wisdom in loving our "enemies". It does not matter what your current position is on your team, you can lead by example from where you are. What way do you want to lead in positive regard? What ways do you want to be lead by positive regard?

"A boss relies on authority. A leader relies on cooperation."

We have been trained to be competitive by our sports, by cutthroat businesses, by the marriages we saw growing up, by the stories we have been taught. Learning to cooperate with what is going on is a challenge. In fact it takes competition to compete to cooperate. We can take all of our training on competition and use it to our advantage by competing to cooperate. You can foster more cooperation from what ever position you are in now. How can we not cooperate with what is going on since someone suggested giving thanks for everything? Where does it say that? What ways do you want to cooperate and get cooperation?

"A boss says "I". A leader says "We.""

Learning to say "We" and to mean it, is a challenge. One way to do this is to think win - win. Having your intention of finding a way for everyone to win is one secret of making our team a "We." It does not matter where you are in the "We", when everyone wins there is less friction. When there is less friction the "We" becomes more efficient. The "We" team becomes more efficient and this shows up in the bottom lines of more fun, freedom, caring and abundance. Who else has identified with us and took on our stuff? In what ways do you want to say "We"?

"A boss creates fear. A leader creates confidence."

How can one create confidence? One way is to build up the members of your team. The best way to start is to learn how to create confidence in your self. The strange thing I have learned is that the more forgiving I do of myself and others the more confident I become. Who recommended forgiving a lot of times? Once you learn how to forgive you can lead by demonstrating confidence in your self and then in others. The secret is that you can not create confidence until you have created it in yourself. The other secret is that the more you forgive the stronger you are at standing up for yourself and others. Once you have more confidence your team will catch more confidence. This will continue to reduce our fears and negative emotions. What ways do you want to create confidence?

"A boss knows how. A leader shows how."

How does a leader show how? Have there not been leaders and lovers that showed us how? Who are they for you? One way is to continue to learn how. Our challenge is to use the talents of all our team members. A boss may think that they know how, but they are missing all that their team could add. So one way to show how is to learn how to value the valuable contributions possible from everyone. That includes your boss, even if they have not grown into a leader yet. What ways do you want to show how?

"A boss creates resentment. A leader breeds enthusiasm."

How can you breed enthusiasm, when there is resentment? There is enthusiasm when there is no resentment. One way is to first resolve conflicts within yourself. Do you know someone who has more of their internal conflicts resolved? Are you ready to ask him/her to be your mentor? Are you ready to listen? Are you ready to discuss the matter with him/her? Then you can begin to resolve conflicts on your teams. The more conflicts you resolve within yourself, the better you will be at resolving conflicts on your teams. What ways do you want to breed enthusiasm? How do you want to resolve your inner conflicts?

"A boss fixes blame. A leader fixes mistakes."

This is a real challenge, to focus on fixing mistakes, while most of the world is focusing on fixing blame. It helps to know that everyone is doing the best they can, with what they know now and what they do not know now, that they do not know now. That means that we are all unconscious of part of what drives us. Our conscious unconscious that we are unconscious of, causes most of the negativity in our world. We are helpless to avoid mistakes, until we become conscious of what we do not know now. That means that the only mistake we need to work on, is to become more conscious of what we do not know now, that we do not know now. One way to know more of what we do not know is to learn how to forgive our self, others, and whatever else we blame. A leader once said: "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."? What ways do you want to fix mistakes and become more conscious?

"A boss makes work drudgery. A leader makes work interesting."

How can you make things interesting? One way is to find what everyone is interested in and then use that as a part of your work and your home life. That means getting to know everyone better. That could be quite interesting, getting to know everyone better. What ways do you want to make work and home interesting? Who do you know that knows you totally and forgives you totally?

The last and most important thing to remember is that any Total Quality Marriage is about a continuous improvement process. It is not about making anyone wrong for not already having a "Total Quality Marriage", right now. It is not about making anyone wrong, for not already being a leader. It is about a continuous improvement process of growing from acting like a boss to growing into acting like a leader. An employee as well as a marriage partner are equally responsible for showing true leadership. We do not need a boss's position to show true leadership. If fact it may be harder to be a leader in a boss's position.

Keep in mind that we grew up in a world that taught more about bossing than leading. So take it easy. The leaders of our spiritual journey have patience with us. Pass it on.

Copyright 1996/7 by R. M. Foster.

(Michael Foster MA has a Spiritual Skills Coaching business called: "Recovery by Discovery". He does Therapy for Therapist and TQL Therapy for Teams. He publishes a coaches tip each day on his Internet pages at


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Copyright (c) 1997,8, by Michael Foster, M. A. at (301) 668-9965 and