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.

Self-Leadership, My Most Difficult Challenge

businesswoman hands holding sign find your way text messageWhy is leading myself more difficult than leading others? I ask myself this question EVERY SINGLE day!

Why do I say or do things I know are wrong (there is a biblical reference here)? It happens at home, work, with my wife, with my co-workers and those I love and lead.

The answer is simple. There are areas I don’t see until they sprout up. In fact, I believe there are times I don’t see myself from a realistic point. I see myself from my intentions, AND others see me through my actions and words.  I should probably also admit that I see my intentions from the training and talks I give.

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While I speak of myself, I am sure I’m not alone.  But how does one address this issue? Answer, look for the blind spots and deal with them! However, how do we identify the blind spots?  I look personally to three source for my self-leadership:

  1. Scripture
  2. My wife
  3. Co-workers and staff

These sources provide direct and/or indirect insights to the areas I need to change or improve.  With this information, I can apply these five principles.

  1. Control Emotions –  Like anyone else, leaders have  emotions.  In fact, I believe a leader’s emotions can be more powerful due to the passion and desire for success they possess.  However, a good leader knows how to control their emotions and display or delay them based on the situation.
  2. Meditate – Leaders are achievers.  And that means they hit the ground running, which leaves little time to stop and think.  Spend 30-45 minutes every morning mediating on the things that matter and planning your day.
  3. Focus Your Effort Where it Matters– A good leader wants to achieve more.  They are never satisfied with their achievements. For me, I tend to want to fix everything and solve everyone’s problems. However, to be effective we must learn to focus our efforts on what really matters.  I heard John Maxwell say, ” You can’t be 100% all the time.” I find that statement very true.  We must identify the times and events where we need to be 100% .  Everything else gets a good effort,  just not our best.
  4. Serve Others – Zig Ziggler said, You can have everything in life, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”  I am finding this to be very true.  Not from a selfish perspective, but simply from putting others first in every action or decision. Throughout my career, I have seen and reaped the benefits of putting others first by gaining their respect, commitment and dedication.  I simply look at it as, “you reap what you sow.”
  5. Get a Coach and/or Mentor – We all need to keep our minds sharp and our thoughts and ideas flowing freely.  Our minds can freeze or we experience those “blind spots” that throw us for a loop.  As a Coach and Mentor, I see the benefit from asking stimulating questions and the ability to seek wisdom and advice from others. I personally have at least five mentors that I can rely on for helping to address questions or walk me through situations.  I sleep better knowing I have access to these individuals.  I also can call several coaching colleagues for encouragement and guidance when needed.

Take the time to evaluate the effectiveness of your self-leadership to these five principles. Then establish a process where you consistently work to apply these principles and improve where needed.

A leader’s greatest challenge and most difficult task, is self-leadership. If you lead yourself correctly, you will influence others and they will follow.  Failure to manage your self-leadership will create a loss of respect and the inability to influence, causing people to leave and follow others.

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READY, FIRE, AIM, The Initiative Concept for Leadership Abundance and Success

Ready Fire AimIf you know what to do, then just do it!  I could probably stop right there and have the shortest blog I’ve ever written.  But that would be boring.

As a leader, one of the most frustrating things is to have someone on my team not take the initiative to make things happen.  Instead they sit back and wait for direction, or constantly need my approval that their path or ideas are right.

I want people that are willing to take risks, learn from their mistakes and accomplish what they never thought could be done.  I encourage and expect my staff to embrace the idea of READY, FIRE, AIM!  A concept I learned years ago and I have refined recently.

Let me break the term down:

  • READY – Identify what needs to be accomplished and evaluate what it takes to fully and completely accomplish the task or idea.
  • FIRE – Go do it!  Don’t wait.  Be the swoosh in NIKE and “Just Do It.”  For my inner circle, there are very few times where this concept wouldn’t apply.
  • AIM – Once you “Do It”, then tweek as needed.  If you did your due diligence in the READY phase, there should be very little need to correct things.

These three simple words can create extreme success in your leadership and success in the workplace.

Here are three examples of people who embraced the concept of READY, FIRE, AIM:

  1. Elon Musk – When you make millions off of an internet company like PayPal, the world generally expects you to, well, create and make more millions off of another internet company. But Elon Musk’s dreams lay elsewhere: Rather than follow a more conventional career path, Musk took the money he had made at PayPal and invested it in two of his own highly innovative startups, SpaceX and Tesla. Though his attempt at operating these two ventures at once nearly sent both companies into bankruptcy, it seems to have ultimately paid off—today, both SpaceX and Tesla thrive.
  2. Sylvester Stallone – With a baby on the way and too little money to pay the rent on his Hollywood apartment, Sylvester Stallone sat down and wrote the screenplay for Rocky in less than four days. Producers loved it and offered him big bucks to bring the story to life—but Stallone, as down-and-out as he was, refused to take any offer if he wasn’t allowed to play the lead role in the film.  Rocky ultimately ended up pulling in millions of dollars and skyrocketing Sly into fame.
  3. Travis Kalanick: Uber – Travis is a great example of Ready, Fire, Aim.  If he become discouraged with failure, Uber wouldn’t exist.  Founded the company Scour Inc., a multimedia search engine, and Scour Exchange, a peer-to-peer file sharing service. Two years later, the company would come under fire from several big name music and film agencies for copyright infringement, forcing Scour to eventually succumb to bankruptcy.  In 2007, Kalanick and Garrett Camp founded Uber. After facing some early competition and funding concerns, the ridesharing app is now the most widely used app of its kind. Kalanick created three companies; one failed, but that did not stop him from taking the risk.

Taking initiative is an important part of most any job and is critical to increasing your influence and ultimately your leadership.  However, the reality is that not many of us will not end up as successful as Elton, Sylvester or Travis.  But I can say people who take initiative, are people I want in my inner circle.  And I bet that is the way many leaders feel.

I agree with Conrad Hilton said, “Success seems to be connected with action.  Successful people keep moving,.  They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.” 

Don’t keep talking about it, just “DO IT.”

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BECOME A LEADER WHO INFLUENCES THE INFLUENCERS

To be an effective leader we must influence.  We’ve all seen John Maxwell’s quote, “Leadership is Influence, Nothing More, Nothing Less.”  People who can influence can lead.  But how does one become a leader of leaders?  The obvious answer is to influence the influencers.

Balancing a team leader with a great team. A team of three executives stands on a balance where the counterweight is a great team leader.

How do you influence the influencers?  It begins by identifying your strengths and weaknesses and making adjustments as necessary. In addition to your basic influence, you increase your influence on the influencers by;

  1. Being fully in the game – Follow and align with the organizations vision and goals, regardless of what you think.  Influencing the influencers; means being a team player. Remember; Power comes to those who live under authority.
  2. Use your strengths to help others succeed – Les Brown said, “help others achieve their dreams and you will achieve yours.”  Influencing the influencers; means remembering there are others that need your help.
  3. Ask for feedback – How can you exceed expectations if you don’t know if you are meeting expectations. Influencing the influencers; means knowing how to exceed expectations.
  4. Just Do it – My favorite saying, “Don’t tell me what you’re going to do, show me what you’ve done!”  Influencing the influencers; requires achieving more than others and doing it better.
  5. Ready, Fire, Aim – Do what you need to do to, to accomplish what you need to accomplish.  Remember the saying ,“It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission.” Influencing the influencers; means being first, because first always wins!
  6. ALWAYS see the bigger picture through the weeds – Sanford I. Weill said, “The details create the big picture.”  Influencing the influencers; means seeing the big picture in all circumstances.
  7. Give second chances – We all make mistakes, some more than others (talking about myself).  Influencing the influencers; requires recognizing we all make mistakes and helping others become successful.
  8. Hold yourself and others to high standards – My staff knows this principle well.  If we can’t exceed expectations, how can we expect others to do the same. Only those who think great, become great!  Influencing the influencers; means doing it better all the time, every time.
  9. Ask good questions – Become good at asking questions.  “Answers inform, questions transform”, John Maxwell.  Influencing the influencers; means having the answers before everyone else does.
  10. Be persistent – Don’t give up, EVER!  Don’t stop until you accomplish what you set out to achieve and then achieve more!  Influencing the influencers; requires persistence in the things that matter.
  11. Be consistent – Avoid impulsive decisions and think before you speak.  Influencing the influencers; requires consistency in our actions and behaviors.
  12. Call out the elephant in the room – The Old English used a term, “There it is”.  It was used when calling out the obvious or ridiculous in something or someone.  Not addressing an obvious issue is passing up a chance to influence and more than  likely being viewed as intimidated.  Influencing the influencers; requires guts and courage.
  13. Assemble an inner circle that believes in the vision – John Maxwell said, “A leaders potential is determined by those closest to him/her.”  Influencing the influencers; requires exceptional influence from you and your entire team.
  14. Be direct, but respectful –  It’s important to speak your mind when the timing is right.  However, be respectful in all conversations.  Influencing the influencers; requires people with the audacity to get to the point and do it respectfully.   
  15. Admit your mistakes and fix them – No need for excuses, just admit the wrong doing and make it right.  Influencing the influencers; requires humility, not arrogance.
  16. Seek wisdom from the wise and obtain knowledge from those who have walked before you –  Some know the way because of the wisdom they posses.  Some know the way, because of the experiences they’ve experienced.  Influencing the influencers; requires seeking counsel and advice when needed.Leader speaking / 3D render image representing an leader speaking in front of a crowd

Those who influence the influencers, are those who influence those who have influence. In other words, to lead leaders, you must influence those who lead others.  Do what you do well and lead those you lead with conviction and passion and you will find yourself leading leaders.

EXCEED EXPECTATIONS, Your Break From Average

I recently spoke to a group of leaders with the American Society of Safety Engineers at their annual leadership Conference on this very topic.  This conference was a chance for Chapter Officers from around the world to come together and learn how to better serve their memberHand writing Expectations with marker, concept backgrounds.  This was especially significant as I currently serve as President of the Oklahoma City Chapter.  My goal was to encourage and motivate to do more than simply meet member expectations.

Expectations are a part of everything we do in our our personal and professional life.  We all grew up with certain expectations; complete your chores, do your homework, take a bath, brush your teeth, etc.  Parents, teachers, coaches and employers all have certain expectations.  If we meet those expectations, then people are happy.  If we don’t they are unhappy and there is usually an uncomfortable conversation that follows.

Look, expectations are a part of life.  There are just certain things people expect from us and we expect from others. Meeting expectations is what everyone strives for.  But, why be like everyone else?  If you can exceed expectations, you can separate yourself from others and standout from the crowd.

Let me share a story with you.

It was a Friday afternoon and I hadn’t been home in almost two weeks. I was at the airport waiting on a flight to Dallas. It was stormy throughout the western United States, but I was flying from Boston so I didn’t think anything of it.  As I checked the monitor, I noticed my flight had been delayed 45 minutes.  I was annoyed, but that is how it goes sometimes, right?   Well those 45 minutes turned into another 45 minutes, then 3 hrs. NOW, I wasn’t only annoyed but mad! And SO WAS EVERYONE ELSE AT THE GATE!

However, after a few minutes of complaining and multiple very loud sighs, something starting to happen at the gate.  Airline workers started handing out drinks and snacks.   I noticed a slight shift in the mood, including myself.  I could actually hear some laughs and positive comments.

Well, after what seemed like a fairly short time, it was finally time to get on the plane and head south. The mood turned even better when the Flight Attendant announced that we would be receiving free drinks due to the delay. SWEET!!!!!

The plane was buzzing a little louder (I felt like I was on a flight to Las Vegas with a bachelorette party or something) and the mood seemed a lot more cheerful. People seemed happy and the flight went very quickly. Before I knew it we were landing in Dallas.

So let me ask you a question.  Do you think the airline met or exceeded my expectations?

Well of course they EXCEEDED my expectations!  We arrived at our destination safely. And we were given special treatment for the inconvenience.

By the airline becoming situationally aware with the passenger’s disappointment and recognizing the importance of home and family, they wanted to do something to exceed passenger expectations.  Sure they didn’t meet the initial on time expectation, but rather than sitting around dealing with the multiple complaints, they recognized the situation and quickly did what they could to accommodate in whatever way made sense.

As I grow in my personal and professional leadership, I realize everyone wants to meet expectations.  People work very hard to meet expectations and simply getting by.  However, that creates a bottleneck to performance and ultimately slows a person’s promotional and career advancement.

To excel in one’s personal and professional efforts, there must be something which separates them from others.  They must stand out.  Their work and effort must be above others.  It is easy to blend into the crowd and be average.   However, for those who want to advance and achieve something more than average, they must exceed expectations.  Average doesn’t get you into the MLB, NFL or NBA.  It doesn’t get you a job as CEO of a Fortune 500 company.  In fact, average will not get your resume past most employers initial screening and it certainly won’t get you past the initial interview.

So how does someone exceed expectations?  I’m glad you asked that question.  I have some tips and insights that create a mindset to exceed expectations.  These are activities, expectations and insights I personally use when evaluating the expectations others have for me and I have for myself.

Read and reflect on these and put them in context to your specific needs, desires and situation.  I think you will find these useful and effective.

9 Personal Insights about expectations:

  1. I realize disappointment is simply the gap between expectations and reality-Learn to recognize this and take action early to prevent any gaps.
  2. I consistently strive to exceed expectations and impress every time, through everything I do – Regardless of what I gain.
  3. I realize the only person that can raise my standard of expectations is………….ME! Always strive to exceed expectations.
  4. I expect more from myself than others expect from me – I am never satisfied with yesterday!
  5. I realize it is impossible to offer excuses and still exceed expectation – Excuses deteriorate respect and stop you in your tracks!
  6. I realize focusing is the single-most important skill in exceeding expectations.  Learn to focus and learn what it takes to stay focused even when their are distractions.
  7. Did you know only 2% of people consistently exceed expectations–  80% don’t meet expectations.
  8. Meeting expectations is average – If you want to be average, do something else and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
  9. You are never going to be excellent in your weaknesses – No matter how hard you work. Exceed expectations where you know you are good.

10 Thoughts, Tips and Actions that will help you EXCEEED EXPECTATIONS:

  1. Expect more from yourself than anyone else – Integrity begins with you.
  2. Refuse to live off the past – Yesterday ended last night, Get Over It!  However, never be satisfied with yesterday.
  3. Don’t use your relationships to cover your failures or shortcomings “We’re Friends” is abused!
  4. RESPECT must be earned DAILY!!! – Earn respect by doing the difficult right things
  5. Ask for feedback , all the time and after every activity- If you are good, feedback will improve you, if you are bad, feedback will make you better.
  6. I only travel the high road with others – IN BUSINESS IT MIGHT NOT MAKE SENSE, BUT IN LIFE IT MEANS EVERYTHING
  7. I give 100% at key times everyday – What are the events, people that require my best?
  8. I value people too much to not give them my best- Character, People, Perspective, Attitude and Passion Matter
  9. I exceed expectations because I bring people around me who exceed expectations My performance increases as I surround myself with those who exceed expectations.

I heard John Maxwell tell a story about his grandson, Troy. Troy had recently graduated from college and quickly got his first job.   As they were having lunch one day, John asked Troy if he knew how to set himself apart from the rest of the employees. Troy simply shrugged his shoulders.  John said;

“you have to do something quickly to set your self apart from the rest of the employees, otherwise you will just be another employee.”

Here is what John told Troy to do:

  1. You must work harder than everyone else – come in early and stay late. Eat in for lunch most times.
  2. Do something for somebody that is not your job.  Make a point to do something for someone everyday that is not your job.
  3. Make an appointment with your leader (boss) and thank him/her for your job. Express gratitude and humility.

I’d say these three things will exceed everyone’s expectations.Exceeding expectations will set you apart from everyone else. That opens the door for a bright and successful future.

DON’T BE AVERAGE………AVERAGE IS BORING!!!  STRIVE TO EXCEED EXPECTATIONS IN EVERYTHING YOU DO!

Exceed to Succeed Extra Credit Above and Beyond Ruler