What is Clause 5 on Leadership in the ISO 9001:2015 Standard?

5 January 2024

Clause 5 of the ISO 9001:2015 standard outlines the responsibilities of top management within the organization's quality management system. It emphasizes the active involvement of top management and the delegation of responsibilities within the ISO 9001 framework.

Responsibilities of Top Management

The first part of Clause 5 summarizes the various responsibilities of top management in relation to the ISO 9001 quality management system. A critical requirement is for top management to integrate the ISO 9001 quality management system into the operational processes of the company. This integration ensures that quality policy and objectives are aligned with the overall strategy of the organization.

Customer Focus

Customer focus is a significant aspect of Clause 5. Top management's leadership plays a crucial role in determining customer requirements, addressing and mitigating related risks, and maintaining a focus on customer satisfaction. By prioritizing the needs of customers, management can improve the organization's ability to meet customer requirements and expectations.

Establishment of the Quality Policy

Top management is responsible for establishing the organization's quality policy. This policy should reflect the company's commitment to meeting requirements and driving continuous improvement. It serves as a framework for defining and reviewing quality objectives, which should be based on the organization's needs and priorities.

Responsibilities and Authorities

Top management ensures that responsibilities and authorities within the organization are clearly established. This clarity is essential for effective operations of the company, as tasks or jobs can only be accomplished if it is clear who is responsible for them. Management should establish a clear definition of responsibilities and authorities, taking into account the organization's internal structure and external needs.

Appointment of ISO 9001 Management Representative

While top management is ultimately responsible for the ISO 9001 quality management system, they have the option to appoint an ISO 9001 Management Representative. This individual takes on various responsibilities and authorities within the system to help facilitate its implementation and maintenance.


Clause 5 of the ISO 9001:2015 standard highlights the importance of top management's leadership and commitment in driving the organization's quality management system. By actively involving themselves in customer focus, establishing quality policies, and clearly defining responsibilities and authorities, top management sets the tone for successful implementation, application, and continual improvement of the ISO 9001 quality management system.

For more information on the remaining six clauses in ISO 9001:2015, and their interconnections, please see our article on ISO 9001:2015 Requirements. Additionally, if you're a senior leader in your organization seeking to fulfill your responsibilities under ISO 9001:2015, we recommend considering our comprehensive ISO 9001:2015 Executive Training online course.

Simon Keller

Simon Keller

Training Manager, Instructor and Lead Author

Simon is the lead author of our ISO 9001 courses, templates and instructions, and is a passionate contributor to our articles and learning resources.

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