Robert Pater is nothing if not a warrior for good safety leadership.
He is someone who has clearly made this his life’s work, and he has been pretty reliable in making informative articles in Professional Safety magazine, as well as in books, discussing the power and need for leadership when it comes to sound occupational health and safety cultures in workplaces. Over the last couple of posts, I have been taking the liberty of reviewing his most recent article, which appeared in the November 2015 issue of PS, and I have turned it into blogs about some safety resolutions your business may want to consider in terms of developing and cultivating safety leadership in your organization.
Now, a Reminder
It is one thing to actually find the people who can be the next leaders; that is actually the easy part. The hard part is what comes next, but it is probably the most important part of any leadership initiative – touching the emotional aspect of leadership, inspiriting those leaders to be leaders and to lead others.
Leadership isn’t just a mechanical thing that you can teach in mentorship programs or in formal training. If emotion isn’t included in the equation, it’s likely that your leaders will fall out. Leaders should not only be inspiring or be able to inspire the rank-and-file, but they also should be inspired themselves. As Pater wrote earlier in his article, which I addressed in a previous post, future leaders should be those who are “disrupters,” not satisfied with the status quo but willing and wanting to make changes to improve efficiency and/or profitability. But to swim against the stream, these leaders have to have some motivation – something they are trying to achieve that is in the direction they want to go, and they have to want to get there more than the flow of the stream or they will end up giving up and flowing with the stream.
If it was their disruptability that made you consider them for leadership, then the last thing you want to too is crush that enthusiasm once you get them in leadership with things like, “This is how we’ve always done it.”
And pop, there goes the balloon of leadership emotion. Now you have a robot who, once it realizes it is not a robot but an actual human being, he or she will lose faith in the leadership and doubt his or her ability to make any meaningful changes, and he or she will disappear from whatever leadership program you have in place.
These “disrupters” are dreamers just like you. Just as you cultivate and embrace your own dreams, do the same for your future leaders. When you keep them passionate about whatever they are passionate about, you keep them engaged as leaders and make them more willing to be leaders for others and lead the charge into the future.
A Top 10 List
Pater referred to a colleague, Jeff Burke of Flonda North America, who has a list of 10 principles that he uses to continually remind himself about his mission and vision for his company and for safety, and it is a list that keeps him motivated and engaged as a leader. Pater offered to share it:
- Have a dream, it’s OK. It is what gets you up every day.
- Have passion. Make the right decision; what is right comes from passion, not logic.
- Have winning in mind. You don’t lead just by showing up; you have to want to win and do what it takes to reach the top.
- Have inspiration, within yourself and give it to others.
- Have courage. Even when the status quo winds are blowing, stand in the face of them and don’t waver, especially when you know you are right.
- Have fidelity. Be true to your mission, dream and goals and don’t allow yourself to be swayed or distracted.
- Have humility. Your dream should not just be about you, especially when it comes to safety. You should put others first.
- Have firmness. Make decisions that further your mission, but don’t be afraid to change course if necessary.
- Have growth. Whatever you think today, be ready to change or enhance it tomorrow. Make the next day better than today.
- Have ears. It is one thing to hear; it’s another thing to listen. Effective communication with others involves listening to what is said – which means, understanding. Expect to ask questions to clarify what is said so you have a full understanding of what is going on.
You and your future leaders can use these principles, or make your own, but this can help leaders keep their focus on what is really important – which is always the big picture. There will be distractions along the way, but if you keep focused on the end-goal, distractions will be only that and not become obstacles to success.