As a Leader, Will You Stand For What You Believe

“If you wouldn’t follow yourself, why should anyone else?”

John C. Maxwell

Will you to take a stand for what you believe?  

Most leaders won’t! 

I have worked with leaders from CEOs down to the lowest and newest leaders within many types of organizations. With this experience, I can honestly say that many are unwilling to stand up for what they believe. Instead, they will sprinkle pleasant words and act in ways that politically skirt around the issues. 

Why people are unwilling to stand for what they believe

In one of my jobs, I remember having a conversation with my CEO and discussing the need for consistently following our new hire requirements regardless of the person’s position. He tended to hire people without going through the full hiring and offer process. He felt he was in a place to do what he wanted when he wanted, and the rules, policies, and procedures did not apply to him.  

I held him accountable because it was the right thing to do. He reprimanded me because the policies and procedures went against his beliefs. 

Most people would have let it go because he is the CEO. Well, my leadership beliefs align with Collin Powell.

” Sometimes being a leader means pissing people off!

Collin Powell

To stand up for what you believe and what is right will sometimes result in making someone mad. But I say you are a strong leader!

Taking a stand hurts

I see this all the time on social media. People scream at those who oppose their beliefs or have different opinions. We see the protests and everything that goes on politically.

I just saw an Instagram post of someone I’m following that was kicked off a flight because of the shirt he was wearing. The male flight attendant said, “he felt threatened” because of the American flag on his hat and the shirt with a bible verse. He stood up for what the believes but paid the price.

People are willing to hurt others to make themselves feel better and have a stronger position. They’re eager to take down people who don’t align with their thoughts and beliefs.

True leaders have to take a stand for what they believe

You have to be willing to be hurt, tell the truth, share their message, and live a life that is true to who they are. Be prepared to be hurt. That’s the only way you can lead.

BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE

Your mouth is poison; your mouth is wine.

–The Civil Wars

WHAT WE SAY MATTERS

The words we use can create sparks that can burn down the house. The lyrics from the musical group, “Talking Heads, in their song, “Burning Down the House”, sets the stage for this blog.

My house! Is out of the ordinary

 That’s right! Don’t wanna hurt nobody

 Some things sure can sweep me off my feet

 Burning down the house

Let me break down these lyrics based on our words; 

“My house! Is out of the ordinary.” The atmosphere we create is based on the words we choose.

“We don’t want to hurt anybody.”, Our words can encourage, persuade, defend, or manipulate. They can offend, ruin our relationships, position, or the respect we have with those we lead or influence.

“Some things sure can sweep me off my feet.” Choosing the rights words will determine your effectiveness in influencing  

“Burning down the house.” Chose the wrong words, and watch everything you created, the culture, the relationship, and the influence you had, burn!

OUR WORDS ARE POWERFUL

In the third chapter of the book of James, he says this:

“Consider when a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue is also a fire.” Verse 7: “All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil full of deadly poison.” (NIV)

James wasn’t saying that speaking or words are evil. The fact is, our words are incredibly crucial for influencing others. Our words are essential for building and strengthening those we interact with, so words are important. But he does give us the warning that words can do a lot of damage.

Sometimes one inappropriate word can wreck a career. It can destroy a reputation. When it’s in bad taste, when it’s unfair or unjust, it can burn down a life. It can burn down a whole culture!

It doesn’t matter that you “didn’t mean it” or that you were “just joking.” Sometimes, words just hurt. And we who use them have a responsibility to do so with an awareness of the impact they may have.

In light of the COVID crisis and the racist issues, I spent time re-evaluating the way I think and the approach I take with others. I realize our words determine our beliefs, and that results in the atmosphere we create.

Here are some things to consider about our words:

  1. THINK. Think about what you want to say before you say it. Ask the question, “What if.”. Careless words create frustration.
  2. NOT POLITICAL. Words are not political. They are about respect
  3. CONTEXT. There are occasions in which certain words are not offensive. However, you must ensure you are clear in your position and communicate the FULL meaning of your thoughts.
  4. CORRECT or INCORRECT. You should know what words you are speaking; choose wisely before opening your mouth or writing that angry email or text.
  5. HABITS MATTER. If I speak differently at home than at work, my words will come out, regardless of where I am and who is accompanying me. They will come out unintentionally.
  6. LAZY WORDS. We will all offend someone at some time. Some more than others. Why? Because we are lazy to think before we speak and we are lazy to change the way we think.

So What Now What

Words are invisible sparks. They build up in our brains, and every time we speak a wrong word, they shoot from our tongue. If we continue to speak the wrong things, we will fuel the fire and “BURN DOWN THE HOUSE!”

Just do this…………………THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK.

Denis is a former VP of Safety, HR and Risk Management. As an Executive Director of the John Maxwell Group, Denis is a certified leadership coach, trainr, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior Consultant. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques.  His unique passionate and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader.  

6 Safety Leadership Attributes Most Effective in Changing Behaviors

“Its easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.”

MARK TWAIN

In our attempt to become effective safety leaders, we must build strong relationships, respect, and create an atmosphere of trust and value. In my years of growth as a safety professional, I’ve learned through trial and error how to build real relationships with the workforce. These relationships resulted in respect and trust. In a recent survey to 50 hourly workforce employees, I asked the following question; 

“what leadership attributes would be most effective in convincing you to consider changing your actions and behaviors.” 

With the responses, I was able to identify 6 keys attributes safety professionals need to exhibit to convince workers to change their actions and behaviors.

  1. Clarity: Communicate the “why” of each expectation and requirement – We must be clear and concise in our expectations and requirements, but to ensure buy-in, you must present why these instructions are critical to the safety of each worker. People want to be “in the know.” They want to know where they are headed and what you expect from them so they can deliver. 
  2. Relationship: Connect with your workers – Many safety professionals are enforcers and don’t focus on conencting and building relationship. This causes tension and disrespect. Be present with your people. Please don’t leave them wondering who you are. They are looking for you to connect with them and build a working relationship. Learn names. Acknowledge people as you walk around. Recognize that life is going on outside of work. 
  3. Confident humility: Humble yourself and empower your workforce for success – Be competent and confident in your role, but lead with humility. Be decisive when necessary, and illustrate your knowledge by the reality of your decisions. Ask for suggestions and consider all solutions when looking to implement or change requirements and expectations. Safety professionals make mistakes often. I know I do!
  4. Encourager: Cheer on your workforce – While walking the work area(s), be on the lookout for those who are exceeding expectations and give them the recognition they deserve. Let those who are meeting the minimum requirements know how much you appreciate them following the rules and meeting your expectations. Encourage those doing the right thing that they are setting themselves up to go home the same way they came in. FOr those not exhibiting safe behaviors, ask them “why”, explain the expectations and “why” and encourage them to commit to working safely.
  5. Courage: Challenge your workforce – When problems occur, challenge your workforce to identify solutions. Creativity and innovation drive buy-in, which results in progress and safe performance. Have difficult conversations when necessary, and always get a commitment to do the right thing. People want to know where they stand and where they might need to improve.
  6. Passion: Let your workforce know you care for them – LOVE what you do or LEAVE! Exhibit unlimited energy and enthusiasm for your people, purpose, vision, and the values you embrace. Passion will drive buy-in and respect. It will inspire the workforce to consider doing the right thing. The safety profession is about people. When workers realize your passion is for their safety, and not just a job, they will be more prone to do what is right. Don’t be shy about your passions; let it shine through, and people will follow.

Exhibit these six attributes, and you will build strong relationships, gain respect, and create an atmosphere of trust and value. Accomplishing this will reduce risks, prevent injuries, and make a difference in others!

Denis is a former VP of Safety, HR and Risk Management. As an Executive Director of the John Maxwell Group, Denis is a certified leadership coach, trainr, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior Consultant. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques.  His unique passionate and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader.  

You can contact Denis at dbaker@leaderinfluence.net for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture change training, DISC Behavioral consulting or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.