I can recall it vividly. About 4 PM on a recent Monday afternoon, I was in my office having a meeting when my cell phone rang. I looked at it and saw that it was our service director. However, I chose not to answer and continued my focus and attention on the person I was meeting with. The phone immediately rang again. This time, I excused myself and answered the phone. The service director quickly informed me that one of our vehicles was involved in a very serious accident, one with potential for significant injuries. He stated the area manager was on his way to the scene and was currently in a conversation with the vehicle passenger

As information, as well as pictures, quickly came in from various sources, I was able to piece together a relatively accurate account of the incident. It appeared that a vehicle had attempted to make a left hand turn across traffic. A semi truck was heading in the opposite direction and tried to take evasive action by entering the opposite lane of traffic where our vehicle had been traveling. In an attempt to avoid the truck, our driver left the road and went into a field. However, he was hit by the semi, causing our vehicle to roll several times with the semi resting on the top of the upside down vehicle. Both employees were able to exit the vehicle, but were transported to the hospital for evaluation. After a series of tests, both employees were released from the hospital. One was released with no injuries and the other received sutures due to a laceration on the head. Despite the severity of the wreck, the outcome was a positive one. Our employees left the scene of the accident with only minor injuries. It was great end result to a potentially devastating outcome.

As I reflect upon this situation, I have recognized just how much leadership counts! The way one conducts them selves during a situation has a dramatic impact upon others and the overall situation. With this incident in mind, I believe it’s important to outline the leadership traits and qualities that are crucial during a time of crisis.

Listed below are the steps I took during this particular crisis. These steps allowed me to posses the poise and confidence needed to lead our people as well as the company through this crisis.

  • I had to quickly define what the problem was – Sounds straightforward doesn’t it? Well, it wasn’t. To accurately define the problem, I had to sift through all of the initial information and decide what were assumptions, exaggerations, and just hearsay.
  • I asked pertinent questions to simplify the situation – I focused my questions on those that would provide relevant, simple information. I wanted to obtain information that was relevant, so I could relay an accurate account of the situation to my executive group. This was not the time to figure out what caused the accident to happen in the first place.
  • I had candid communications – I was frank with my executives and CEO. It was a serious incident, one with potential for devastating results. I stuck to the facts. I never downplayed the situation or made things appear different from the presented information.
  • I secured authorization to make decisions – I needed to secure the support of the executive group. The first three steps above showed this to be a swift, almost non-existent need. This allowed me to make decisions and take action with confidence. For example, I flew the injured employee’s girlfriend in from California and ensured that other family members were able to meet him at the hospital. I also made sure that everyone was fed and taken care of.
  • I utilized the entire TEAM– I quickly realized that I wasn’t in the best position to make certain decisions. I brought in my regional EHS director for information on the injured employee and used the area manager for information regarding the accident scene. We also utilized lead individuals to gather personal belongings, tools, and equipment.
  • I made the decision to do the right thing regardless of the outcome – I had to make decisions that were right for the employees’ health and well-being. I refused to cut corners or lower my ethical standards that would sway the outcome for me or anyone else.
  • I needed to be visible and provide reassurance and support – I needed to be at the location. I felt it was critical to show support and reassure everyone that we would get through this. I booked an early morning flight. However, due to weather, my flight was delayed three different times. I made the decision to drive the nine-hour trek and get there by early evening.
  • I displayed support and commitment by meeting the needs of those involved – The time spent on site was a simple one. I demonstrated support and commitment by making sure the employees had everything they needed. As I was told the details of what happened, I listened. This was not the place or time to investigate. I simply bought lunch, ensured needs were taken care of, and settled all medical costs. In addition, I provided an ear to hear and listened to those around me.

These eight action steps allowed me to be an effective leader by managing the situation, adequately communicating the facts, and leading people to an effective resolution. In retrospect, there are some things that I could have handled more efficiently. However, I can take these gained insights and use it to transform me into a more effectual leader.

Our ability to lead people through a crisis is the most important tool to obtain. Whether it’s ensuring the emergency is under control and necessary resources are available, or simply being a support person where people are taken care of and the facts are communicated, your leadership counts.

IMG_3178I hope by outlining my personal actions during this particular crisis will help you become a better leader. If and when you find yourself in the middle of situation, remember, a leader must show value and demonstrate influence to lead effectively.


th I recently spent 5 days in Orlando attending the John Maxwell Group Training.  This was my second event and I can say it did not disappoint.  MY only problem seems to be how do I capture all of the incredible information that comes out.  I

I decided to take some of my notes and attempt to create a bullet point list.  Hopefully these will means something to you.  I have divided the points by subject matter to help you.

I will be writing more in-depth on the subjects in the future.


  • The more you know, the more you don’t know
  • Malcom Gladpoint, “the tipping point”, law of the few. Find the right few to invest your time and effort in, the payoff will be huge and very regarding.
  • Being a leader means you continue to learn and that flows through you.
  • Mentor is both a verb and a noun;
    • V – people of action
    • N – who you are
  • Mentorship is defined as a transfer of wisdom extracted from experience and knowledge.
  • Mentor – must ask 2 questions
    • What am I learning?
    • Can I pass it along?
  • It is best to learn and pass the information on quickly. Mentoring is a constant process
  • Passing information and learning on is underlining your experience, it is a fresh perspective and sense of learning and knowledge.
  • FRESH carries a PASSION!!! However, passion dies over time, unless it is consistently fed.
  • Everything you learn, receive and acknowledge is not yours, you are simply a manager of information and must pass it on to others.
  • Mentoring is a relationship, NOT A TITLE!
  • Mentoring is not a friendship, but rather a relationship. It is a two way street , side-by-side.
  • Mentoring is empowerment. Relationships breakdown when only one person is carrying the load.


  • Most people, 80% don’t meet expectations.  20% consistently exceed expectations
  • Disappointment is the gap between expectations and reality
  • the only person that can raise the standard of expectation is you
  • If you want to be average, than do something else, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
  • life is not complicated, we’ve made life complicated.
  • I’m tired of giving everyone trophies, for losing every game.  We need to give our kids a reason to want to be better.
  • Always expect the best out of yourself and others
  • Don’t do anything average. There’s nothing exciting about being average
  • life is not complicated, if you pay the price, it’s gets complicated for lazy people
  • Always ask, “What else can I do to exceed their expectations”
  •  Expect more of yourself than others expect of me
  • Don’t short change people
  •  If you find a better way, change immediately
  •  Don’t use relationships to cover my shortcomings or my issues
  • I exceed expectations because I ask for feedback all the time.
  • I only travel the high road with others.  I am going to treat you better than you treat me.
  • Never take advantage of a person even if you can
  • Don’t shortcut people. Always give your best.
  • Refuse to live off of your past.
  • Yesterday ended last night. Give it up!

Hope these help provoke a thought or two with you!

Attitudes, Can They Change

In safety, a big part of our profession involves behavior modification activities. Whether it is from a behavior observation process or from one-on-one conversations, we spend a lot of time reviewing statistical results and/or visually observing behaviors.

I’ll never forget the story my daughter recounted one day. She heard it from a speaker in elementary school. Although the story was most likely not true, it nevertheless painted a picture of what “attitude” is and the impact it can have upon a person.

“ A man finds himself accidently locked in a refrigerated boxcar. Unable to get out, he uses a knife to etch words and phrases onto the wooden floor, such as….”It’s so cold, my body is getting numb” and “I don’t have much longer…” As the hours go by, the man slowly succumbs to death. The next day, the man’s body is discovered. His written records indicate death due to hypothermia, but the physical evidence shows that the temperature never dropped below 50 degrees. If it wasn’t hypothermia that caused his death, then what was it?

If it wasn’t hypothermia that caused his death, then what was it? The answer of course, is his ATTITUDE, plain and simple. He had determined he was going to die and in his mind, there were no other options. This story demonstrates how powerful our attitude can be and how it dramatically alters the outcome of any situation. So what happens when a person’s attitude interferes and affects their behavior? Can a person’s attitude be changed? I think it can. Allow me to explain.

I have always taught that behaviors can be changed and modified through training, accountability, etc. However, the individual controls their attitude. It’s a choice. An individual will bring their own thoughts and feelings to the workplace, as well as their personal viewpoints with them. In fact, Webster dictionary defines attitude as “A feeling or a way of thinking that affects a person’s behavior.” If we take this definition and dissect it, we discover that a person’s attitude is their “way of thinking.” Therefore, if I change their “way of thinking,” I can change their attitude and ultimately their behavior. If we change their behavior, then we can reduce risk and potential injuries.

Attitude is more important than anything else. It is esteemed more than money, your circumstances, your failures or your successes. It is more valuable than your appearance, your talent, or your skill. Your attitude will make or break you. It will determine your ability to succeed in everything you do.

At my company, we hire based on attitude, not necessarily knowledge or ability (although that is very important). I spend a lot of my time teaching our leaders how to identify candidates that possess the right attitude. You see, if a person has the right attitude, then we can teach and train them for almost any position.

I am totally convinced in the phrase that states life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it! Winston Churchill once said, ”Attitude is a little thing that makes a BIG difference.” There is a direct correlation between attitude and behaviors. A person’s behavior is affected by their attitude. An employee will likely do what is required when the supervisor or safety professional is around. But what about the moments when no one is around? A person’s behavior doesn’t dictate their attitude, but their attitude can dictate their behavior.

Can you positively affect a person’s attitude? Absolutely! Here are several things that can make a positive impact on a person’s attitude.

Attitude Awareness– Recognize a person’s attitude (their state of mind). It will determine the approach you take when interacting with them. Using the wrong approach could result in confrontation, rather than a solution. Bad attitudes catch on much quicker than good ones. A person with a bad attitude can affect many people very quickly. Think about it, they are in the work area all the time, interacting with those in their shop, location, etc. Remind employees that attitudes (both positive and negative) are contagious. When addressing the individual’s attitude, place the focus on the behavior instead of their personality traits. ROTTEN ATTITUDES WILL RUIN EVERYTHING! They must be addressed.

Take Responsibility for Your Attitude– Surround yourself with those who are optimistic. You’ve heard the saying, “Bad company corrupts good character.” There is definite truth to this statement. It’s easy to get swept into a mentality that brings about gossip, complaints, and inefficiency. If you make a conscious effort to begin each day with a positive frame of mind, you will be more equipped to handle unforeseen tasks and events. Remember this…a lot goes into an attitude, but a lot more comes out of it! As a leader, this can create success or failure. You own your attitude, be careful.

Be Consistent – Consistency in our decisions, approaches, applications and interactions formulate our credibility. Employees must understand that we are who we are regardless of the situation. You can demonstrate consistency when your yes is a yes and your no is no. Being a consistent leader will help you gain respect and credibility, both of which are essential to changing the attitudes of employees. If your employees consistently chose to not like you, at least there is consistency.

Be Persistent – Persistence creates expectation. If you continue to be persistent in a cause, then I believe you will succeed in that cause. In fact, I believe if you are consistent in your desires, instructions, applications and requirements, you will establish a persistent expectation. Your employees will embrace that expectation. It may take a while, but eventually they will grow weary of fighting and will comply.

As I close, I ask the question again. Can a person’s attitude change? I truly believe it can. There must be willingness and a desire to change, but I believe everyone has that. The key is to figure what triggers the change. When we are aware of an employee’s attitude, we can take necessary steps to accommodate and approach the attitude. I believe we can successfully engage the employee through conversation and achieve desired results. We can also alter a person’s attitudes by taking responsibility for our own. Our positive attitude in the workplace is contagious. In addition, we must be consistent in our approach, thoughts and direction to all employees. Remember, let your yes be a yes, and your no be a no. Lastly, be persistent in your efforts and expectations. Do not waver. As the leader, pursue consistency and establish your expectations.

Attitudes can change. In fact, employees with the right attitudes will exhibit desired behaviors. Those desired behaviors reduce risk and ultimately injuries. The result? A workplace free of injuries, something of which that we all desire.