I have been in the Safety Profession for many years. But when I was new in the profession, I focused more on people meeting my expectations, needs, and wants rather than me meeting their needs and wants. I focused on doing big things and getting ahead of EVERYONE! 

All my initial training and education focused on compliance. I was expected to walk the facility and identify compliance issues and look for people not following company policies. Back in my world, the model of leadership was all top-down. Sometimes I ended successfully, but most times, I was unsuccessful because my thoughts were based on the numbers and bonus. That wasn’t the successful method of being a safety professional.

When I started to research leadership and ultimately became a certified executive coach, trainer, and keynote speaker for the Maxwell Leadership Group, I ended up reading a quote by Zig Ziglar that says this, 

“If you help people get what they want, they will help you.”

He was talking about leaders serving others, which rocked my head! When I kept reading, the term “servant leadership” came up. I did not know what that meant. However, I figured it out as my wife, and I served in the children’s church. We were serving the children to understand the bible and how to live a successful life and help others to succeed. 

So, let’s get into the information about servant leadership. 

What is a Servant Leader?

I believe the best description and definition is how John Maxwell defined what a servant leader is.

A servant leader is someone “whose actions and motivations reflect a selfless commitment to a cause, an organization, or their teammates” (Kouzes & Posner). Compare this to a traditional leader, whose actions and motivations focus more on driving results and growing the organization.

The great thing about true servant leaders is that they also get results and grow the organization. John Maxwell calls it the Law of Addition, from his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership—leaders add value by serving others.

Now my question to anyone reading this blog is this. 

Can a Safety Professional Become a Successful Servant Leader?

Well, my answer is…………………………… YES!

With everything I’ve learned and keep learning about leadership, I have changed how I approach being a safety professional. I focus on building solid relationships with all people within the organization. I began to focus on this quote by John Maxwell.

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

John’s quote got me thinking about changing my approach to the leadership group and the hourly workforce.

I began focusing on the hourly workforce because they determined the company’s success. To be successful, I should spend a lot of time on the ground and build relationships with all of them. I tell safety professionals that we should spend at least 70% or more (depending on your role) with the workforce. 

With my career in new roles and jobs, I started focusing on the workforce by spending much time on the floor and learning how they work. I focused on six components to generate my servant-leader mindset.

6 Components of How I Became a Servant Leader within My Safety Profession

To develop yourself as a servant leader, consider these six components to embrace your philosophy. 

  1. I Don’t Rely on My Position or Title: I’m grateful for my accomplishments, but I don’t rely on them to build me as a leader. Instead, I work to earn respect by following up on what people have asked for and by serving others to achieve their success. Leadership is not about a title; it’s about your passion for people.
  2. I Believe in People and Their Potential: As a passionate safety professional, I care about people. That is the right thing to do. But there are also practical reasons for believing in people. The more I support people and help them achieve success, the more I serve them, and the more their potential safe activities increase. That creates a secure win for everyone.
  3. I Try to See Things from the Workers’ Perspective: It’s possible to lead and serve others only when you know their behaviors, minds, and desires. Therefore, I intentionally connect with people and try to see from their point of view to serve them better. This creates a situation of helping solve problems and building more confidence in performing their jobs safely.
  4. I Actively Work to Create an Atmosphere of Encouragement: When you are willing to serve people, a culture of cooperation emerges where it’s “one for all and all for one.” That makes the environment positive and develops a sense of value and trust.
  5. I want to Listen and Take Action to Meet their Expectations: I focus on what they say, need, and desire when interacting with others. Listening is much more complicated than talking. I struggle to listen to people because I know all the answers thoroughly. But I’ve learned that I can succeed when I listen and act. With actions, you will gain respect and trust.
  6. I Determine My Success by How Much Value I Add to Others: When you decide to serve others, the team’s safety and success will become your success. I remember when I changed my approach and thought process. It felt like my world immediately expanded, and I began achieving success through the increased safe behaviors and commitments from the workforce.

I believe this is true—The degree to which you serve as a leader will determine your effectiveness.

I have met many safety leaders who exhaust themselves, day and night, looking for ways to get ahead and make it to the top. And to be clear, I don’t see anything wrong with desiring to progress in your career and achieve more success. However, you will only succeed if you focus on others.

John Maxwell says, “You’ve got to love your people more than your position.” That’s what servanthood is all about—putting the needs of your people before your aspirations.

Considering how you can become a person focused on others and not yourself will build your ability to become a servant leader. I am still consistently building servant leadership by working to serve others specifically on what they need and want. Sometimes I get frustrated and struggle with my want to serve them. However, I learned that being a strong, successful leader requires strong influence through your relationships. 

Please consider the six components and make all the necessary changes or improvements to your character. Ultimately, I want all Safety Professionals to become strong Servant Leaders, and we will succeed in reducing risk and preventing injuries!

“The best place for a leader isn’t always the top position. It isn’t the most prominent or powerful place. Instead, it’s where they can serve the best and add the most value to other people.” – John C. Maxwell.

Denis is an Executive Director for the John Maxwell Group and is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behaviorial Consultant. Denis is a senior safety professional and a strong, passionate influential person. He is 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 for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture training, DISC Behavioral consulting, or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.


Safety Professionals are excellent problem identifiers but horrible problem solvers! 

If the above statement offends you, that is probably a good thing. Safety people are excellent compliance experts and can identify almost everything that can cause unsafe behaviors or at-risk conditions. But sometimes, you struggle to give advice or help solve the issues. To become more effective and influential, you need to overcome the biggest professional problem……solving problems.

Sometimes you can’t solve the problems because you think you should never solve anything. Well, let me say this, 

“the wise Safety Professional will stare down each problem or potential problem that comes across their plate, and before expending an ounce of energy on trying to solve it, they first consider these three questions….”

1. Is this a problem to be solved or conflicts to be managed?

Before you decide to tackle whatever potential problem, first recognize if you really can solve it. Not every difficult situation that lands in your hands are a problem you will ever be able to solve. You can’t solve the problem of disruptions if a leader isn’t holding his workers accountable. However, you can identify the everyday actions they must follow to protect their people. You can minimize these by good preparation, but you can’t solve them. These are conflicts you must learn to manage.

2. Why is this a problem?

Why is this a problem? Is it a problem? Why do I care? Often, we will identify issues that can be compliance issues or put workers at risk. Before attempting to solve the problem, ask the leader or worker if they think your identification is a problem. If the answer is yes, ask for their suggestion or input to fix or eliminate it. If they say no, give them the “why” on what makes it a problem or concern. Ask this question to get desired feedback.

“I think I might be missing something here. Can you clarify what the problem is we are trying to solve?”

3. What can we do to solve the problem?

So you identified a problem, and the leadership and workforce agreed that it was an issue, or you gave them the “why” it was a problem. Now we need to provide the “what.” This can be a suggestion, discussion, or directional approach. However, there must be an identified way to solve the identified problem(s) when the conversation is made. Always figure out just what the scale and scope of this problem are. And put the appropriate energy and resources to fix and eliminate it.


Remember to reflect on this quote when dealing with problems. 

 “The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem.

– Captain Jack Sparrow

Denis is an Executive Director for the John Maxwell Group and is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behaviorial Consultant. Denis is a senior safety professional and a strong, passionate influential person. He is 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 for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture training, DISC Behavioral consulting, or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.


As we continue to deal with the current COVID crisis, many people continue to focus on politics and self-right and not prioritize loving and caring for one another.  One of the most significant people dividers is the topic of face-coverings. Regardless of our personal, professional, and political views, face-coverings play a significant role in this crisis. You can read articles on scientific research and political perspectives. Each of us has our thoughts surrounding face coverings. However, one of the biggest things I believe we have sent to the bottom of our priority list is the overall protection and care for people. We have focused on our self-rights, justice, and comfort. We want things to be like it always has been.

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also the interest of others.”

Philippians 2:4

Whether it is family, friends, grocery shoppers, or people we hang out with on the golf course, we all have a spiritual priority of loving and caring for one another.

I recently read an article written by Pastor Terry Enns of Grace Bible Church (Marlene and I attend).

Perhaps the most-recognized attribute of God is His love.  And it is true. God is love (1 Jn. 5:16).  God not only loves, but His very nature is love — His identity is love.  His nature is love and He loves — He acts lovingly (1 Jn. 4:10).  Further, all love emanates from Him (1 Jn. 4:7) — if there is a manifestation of love, it is in some way a reflection of His love.  We have an ability to love because we have been loved by Him first (1 Jn. 4:19).  And while God loves the world (Jn. 3:16), that love does not preclude Him from pouring out His wrath on those who reject and rebel against Him (Jn. 3:36).

This love from God is a great security for the believer.  It is the means by which fear of God’s wrath and judgment is cast out (1 Jn. 4:18).  There is hopefulness and confidence in this love.  We are safe.

But there is an often-overlooked aspect of this love of God.  When we are loved by God, it means that we also will and must love others.  Love for others is the natural overflow of God’s love for us.  That is one of John’s emphases in explaining God’s love — “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 Jn. 4:11; see also v. 7). 

But this is not just John’s idea.  This is the consistent message of Scripture.

  • The writer to the Hebrews told us to stimulate each other to love (Heb. 10:24-25).
  • James called Jesus’ words the “royal law” and told us to fulfill that command (Js. 2:8).
  • Peter called his readers to love in a variety of contexts (1 Pt. 1:22; 2:17; 4:8; 5:14).
  • John had an entire book about love in the church body (1 John — see 2:5-6; 3:11, 14ff; 4:7-8, 11-13, 19-21).
  • Paul perhaps proclaimed the message of loving one another more persistently than any other biblical writer (Rom. 13:8-10; 14:15; 1 Cor. 13:4ff; 1 Cor. 16:14; 2 Cor. 5:14ff; Gal. 5:13-14; Eph. 4:2, 15ff).
  • And our Savior affirmed that this love for one another is the central means of testifying to the world of the love of God; our evangelistic testimony and influence is bound up in our loving care for one another (Jn. 13:34-35).
  • Whatever happens in the church body, we are committed to loving one another and caring gently, graciously, and abundantly for one another.  Whatever happens in the world and whatever oppression we face in the world and whatever influences we experience from the world, we are committed to love one another above all other things.
  • What does this love look like?
  • I will define love this way — Love is my privileged commitment to give what is good and gracious to you regardless of what it costs because Jesus loves me.
  • Our love for others is our commitment to each other.  We are bound together and we are intentional in our care for each other.
  • We are committed to each other because it is our privilege.  Love is our joy.  We find satisfaction and delight in loving each other (even in confessing and forgiving sin with each other and being content and free from anger and anxiousness when others sin against us).  We are emotionally invested in caring for each other.  We don’t just say, “I love you,” but we love to love each other.
  • In loving each other, there will be sacrifice on our part.  We will give.  We will give not to get, but for the simple joy of giving to another’s need — what is good for the other and gracious for the other person.  Love is not selfishly motivated.  Love is sacrificial and liberal in its gifts.
  • Love further gives regardless of the cost.  That means love is sacrificial and costly.  It will place burdens on us.  But we love to give so much because we have received so much from Christ.  He has given infinite (irreplaceable) treasures to us; how will we withhold finite (replaceable) gifts to others? 
  • So in illness, and in COVID and masks, and with differing political and social opinions, because of Christ, am I willing to love others affectionately and sacrificially in the body of Christ?  Am I willing to sacrifice for others because Christ has sacrificed and given so much to me?  (Or said another way, “whom am I unwilling to love the way Christ has loved me?”) 

So loving one another is our priority.  Whatever else we do, we are committed to caring for one another.  Christ has loved us.  It is our joy to love others.

As I completed read, I started to think about our role as Christians (regardless of political or personal perspective), and began praying for direction and wisdom on how to focus on the love and care of others.

Whether you are a Pastor, high-level politician or someone who simply focus on their own ideas, rights and comfort, I encourage you to pray for direction and wisdom to serve others through how you should love and care for those around you.