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!

undefinedDenis 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, trainer, 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.

Kickstart Your Approach to Behavior Change With These 10 Quotes

2020 is here. The new numbers ring in a new year and a new decade! With a new year comes new goals, new thoughts, and many start and stop diets (referring to me). With a new decade comes the opportunity to identify and redefine your long-term vision. Being a Safety Professional, I wanted to share some motivational quotes that will help you influence others and begin to change behaviors.

  1. “Let Today Be The Day You Give Up Who You’ve Been For Who You Will Become.” – Hal Elrod. Get rid of the poor attitude and cynical approach with people. Work to connect, build relationships, create trust, add value, and you will be in a position to influence others. A new year and decade is an excellent opportunity to change negative behavior.
  2. “The New Year Stands Before Us, Like A Chapter In A Book, Waiting to be Written.” – Melody Beattie. What are your goals, personally, and from a business standpoint? What you strive to become personally has a tremendous effect on what you achieve in business. What are you going to do to influence others and change behaviors?
  3. “If you Don’t Like The Road You’re Walking, Start Paving Another One.” – Dolly PartonThe road we take will lead us to our destination. If your destination isn’t what you thought it would be, then change it now! Sometimes the programs we develop and implement aren’t effective in changing behaviors. Take a moment this new year and re-evaluate where you’re going and change direction where needed. I always go back to Robert Frost’s Poem, “The Road Not Taken” and determine if I am on the right path to success.
  4. The Future Belongs To Those Who Believe In The Beauty of Their Dreams.” – Eleanor Roosevelt. What is your dream? What is the path to accomplishing them? As a safety professional, I spend much of my time in the field talking with the workforce, interacting with them, and engaging them in identifying what is of value to them. I use this information to determine what must change, what must improve, and what development needs I have. Each new year, I take what I’ve learned and made adjustments to my approach, vision, and strategic plan, which is a critical path to achieving my dreams. If I believe it, then I will do whatever it takes to complete it!
  5. “Don’t Count the Days, Make the Days Count.” – Muhammad Ali. Are you making every day count and every interaction meaningful? Interacting with the workforce and explaining the “why” is essential to achieving change. I’ve found that when I focus my time and effort on what matters, I tend to deliver more than I planned.
  6. “You are Never Too Old To Set A Goal Or To Dream A New Dream.” – C.S. Lewis.” Throughout my life and career, I have always looked for opportunities to grow my self and my experience. The Safety Profession must be willing to continually improve in what we do and how we do it. The Safety Professional must be ready to grow in their knowledge, training, and insight. You don’t know what you don’t know, but you know what you know but aren’t willing to implement what you’ve learned. “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.” Always be open to doing things differently.
  7. “I Like The Dreams Of The Future Better Than The History Of The Past.” – Thomas Jefferson. Yesterday ended last night, get over it! Don’t focus on the results of the past, but focus on the opportunities to improve the future. I wish companies didn’t focus on lagging indicators but instead focused on ensuring everyone is engaged in the activities that will reduce or eliminate the numbers. I know many of our bonuses’ are tied all or part to the numbers. However, in my career, I’ve learned to focus on what will change behavior vs. what will change the names.
  8. “People Don’t Care How Much You Know Until They Know How Much YOu Care.” – Teddy Roosevelt. – I focused my early career on making sure everyone knew I knew everything. WRONG APPROACH! What I learned was that people don’t care that you know what you know, but you are willing to help them achieve their goals. It is like writing an Energy Isolation Procedure, implementing and then find out no one is using or following it because it doesn’t make sense or apply to their environment. Show you care by engaging the workforce and getting buy-in.
  9. “People Will Only Work to The Level Of Safety That You Expect, Nothing More, Nothing Less.” – Denis Baker. You can have the best well-written policies and procedures, the most effective training, and the greatest implementation process in the world. Still, if the expectations are not communicated clearly, people will do what they want, good or bad, right or wrong. I teach people in leadership roles to set high expectations and then hold people responsible for achieving and abiding by them. If not, they must be held accountable.
  10. You Can’t Change A Culture Or Behaviors From Behind a Desk.” – Denis Baker. Make it your priority this year to spend the vast majority of your time engaging and conversing with the workforce and building relationships with your leadership. You can be the best policy and procedure writer, but if you don’t connect and build relationships, you won’t be able to change the way people think when they approach a job or task. Remember this. You can get all the buy-in and support from the leadership you want, but unless you have the support and buy-in from those who do the work, there is no way to achieve success.

Success is what we achieve through others. As you dig into 2020, I encourage you to evaluate yourself and look for opportunities to improve and change. Be passionate about what you believe and do, and you will influence others to change their behaviors, and ultimately, the culture will change.

undefinedDenis 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, trainer, 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.

Change Takes Effort and Time. Are You Committed to See it Happen?

Change doesn’t result from one giant step, but rather it slowly appears after many small steps.”

Denis Baker

Change is a word found in everyone’s vocabulary, regardless of the language. It’s easy to pronounce, easy to spell and is used as a noun or a verb. The word can refer to; making a difference, doing or using something different, reflect your or someone else’s’ desire or actions, and is used to refer to money. However; change in life and business is an overlooked prospect in people. It is one of the most challenging things to embrace. People tend to push away change rather than embrace it.

If you want to make changes to your business, culture, or your people, you need to ask yourself this question:

“Am I willing to give the required effort and time to this cause?”

Making a significant change is at least a three to five-year effort, if not a 7-10-year commitment. If you’re not willing to stay for the necessary time, don’t start the changes. Many organizations expect change to occur quickly. That’s not going to happen. Signs of change are seen relatively quickly; however; for every step forward, there will be three steps backward. 

I’ve had a fantastic but challenging career. Through the years, I’ve become noted for my ability to change or implement a sustainable and robust culture. However; one of my significant career failings is that I began a positive change in many companies, but left before it was fully implemented. Many of my former employers have expressed their frustrations in my leaving before completion. 

A couple of years ago, I was talking with several executives at a potential employer about the changes they wanted to make in their organization. These changes included; culture, leadership ability, and teamwork. I asked, “How long are you willing to invest in these changes?” I received silence and stares. After about 3 minutes (seemed like an hour), one of the persons spoke up and said;

“Oh, I believe we are all aware that change will take six months to a year, and we are willing to fully support the effort during that time.”

Want to know how I responded? I’m sure you do. I looked at the person straight into their eyes and responded with this; 

“With that thought process, change will NEVER occur in this company. Moreover, I am probably not the right person for this position.”

I looked around the room and was met with faces of complete and utter shock! After I took a moment or two to view their facial expressions, I continued to explain why I disagreed with the person’s thought and shared my six principles of change to the group;

  1. Change starts with a vision, the idea must be communicated and embraced by the entire organization.
  2. Change creates motion and motion generates friction.
  3. I pointed out that 20% of the people will embrace the change, 50% will be undecided, and 30% will resist change. 
  4. I stated problems would come up and the only way to successfully address them is to be transparent in your dealings with people.
  5. Another critical aspect of change is ensuring open communication where people feel free and safe to share their thought and ideas. 
  6. A successful transition requires employee involvement and buy-in to eliminate the feeling that they have no control in the process.

I explained to the group that each of these steps took months, if not years, to fully implement and get total inclusion in the change. I explained that I believed the change would take at least 3-5 years, if not longer, based on the leadership ability, sense of urgency and commitment.

I ended my conversation by saying, 

“If six months to a year is all the time you’re willing to commit, don’t even get started with the changes. Nothing will happen in six months, and it will be a waste of time and resources.”

The VP of Human Resources looked at me and said,” Well, Denis, you have created some pretty deep thoughts, and I feel we need to discuss your comments as a group.” I was then walked out of the room and given a handshake as I left. 

One of my biggest lessons in executing change is to realize if you get in the middle of making changes and then bail, it’s like leaving a patient on the operating table. A doctor would never quit in the middle of a heat transplant. If you execute change and leave, your leaving people hanging. You’re just messing up the organization’s efforts. It will move the change process back by months, if not years. 

It’s the person filling your position who will suffer from your lack of commitment. At some point, they will have to deal with a big mess. When the next person creates his or her’s strategic plan and drafts up a vision, the organization will be reluctant in moving forward.

I once asked a pilot how he turns around a big plane in the air. He told me that it takes some time. “You can make almost a 90-degree turn in the air, and the plane can handle it, but your passengers will go crazy.” He said even a 45-degree turn is rough on passengers, but they don’t usually notice a 30-degree turn.

That’s why it’s so essential that you’re willing to stay with the organization long enough to fully complete the change. You can make a bunch of small yet significant changes over a long period. People won’t even notice. It’s when you try to make substantial changes quickly; people get upset and may not support your plans.

Slow the pace of change and be patient; success takes time.

Just ask Hank Aaron. On baseball’s opening day in 1954, Milwaukee Braves rookie Hank Aaron didn’t get a single hit in five trips to the plate. He could have quit that day. However, five outs didn’t define Hank Aaron. He batted another 12,359 times during his career, and he eventually broke Babe Ruth’s career home run record.

Remember this, success is not defined by how you start, but rather how you FINISH!

ACHIEVING CHANGE IN AN UNCHANGEABLE ENVIRONMENT

I recently began a new job with a large organization. The organization is somewhat unique to me because it consists of two legacy organizations each made up of multiple companies. Each organization operated independently until recently when ownership decided to merge the two legacy organizations into a single corporation with shared visions and goals.

“Change is achievable in any environment, as long as all layers are iniated in the change process.” – Denis Baker

I was hired to help create a transformational change where safety and health are Fotosearch_k27534040integrated into the entire operational culture. I believe this is the only practical method for achieving safety and health goals and ultimately an incident-free culture. Safety and health should never be “first” or a “priority,” but rather a core value integrated into the culture of the organization. You see, priorities change, values do not and first is not always. I often use a pie analogy to visualize this. The pie is divided into equal pieces, with safety and health having an equal slice of the total pie. No more, no less, but equal.

Whether your profession is safety or finance, the successful process of change is the same. Here are 10 principles to follow when initiating change. Execute these, and your efforts will be made fruitful.

1. Have compassion and understanding. Regardless of circumstances, change is scary, and you represent a terrifying unknown. Every location I visit, after we complete the professional introductions and small talk, I am met immediate resistance. And most will try and distance themselves. When I begin touring, asking questions and making suggestions, encounter looks of concern or frustration and often hear, “but that is not the way we do it,” or we’ve always done it this way.” To help soften my perceived impact, I often encourage their suggestions or solutions. This creates a great team-centered environment that allows them to consider any of my initiatives. Probably, the most important thing I’ve come to realize, is their reactions aren’t personal; they are just responding to an uninvited change.

2. Reach out and connect with those affected by the change. Success in anything cannot be achieved without effective relationships. Before a relationship can begin, one must first connect with the person or group. Do this by identifying common ground. Look for small wins that build respect and credibility.  In the beginning, change can be frustrating for both sides. It will be tempting to simply brush off questions or concerns, because you may feel it is easier to just do it. And it is. However, I BEG YOU to RESIST that urge! No doubt we want quick results, but you’re better off starting slow and finding common ground. Find opportunities for one-on-one interactions. For change to be successful, connecting with those affected requires consistent, realistic, heartfelt conversation.

3. Influence the influencers. Influence those who have influence, without neglecting the others. Pay attention to group dynamics and identify the influencers. Identify who they are, and get to know them immediately. Learn what they value and be transparent in addressing their needs, concerns or wants. Just remember, you can’t do or control what you don’t control.

4. Expect resistance and don’t ignore it. Resistance is always present for any change, especially culture change. Don’t think it will go away on its own, it won’t. In fact, if left unattended, it will multiply and infiltrate the entire organization. Once this occurs, your job just got tougher. Meet with the discontent. Put your pride aside and listen. Address each issue as it comes up, but don’t make any promises or commitments you can achieve. If that happens, you just lost all the trust and respect you’ve been working to achieve. Gain buy-in by understanding the reasons getting buy-in for your vision and goals for change. Realize that most of the resistors are the influencers.

5. Communicate your values. In the safety profession, it’tempting to withdraw when you encounter conflict, but you have to do the opposite. You’ve got to overcommunicate. Look for ways to demonstrate your values as you explain your vision. You want to reassure people that your principles are positive and show where your values align with theirs. The key is to be steady, positive and consistent.

6. Learn from other leaders. How do others achieve change? Read, ask and network, looking for ways and ideas that might work in your situation. I often tell people to go with their gut. Meaning, if your intuition is saying yes or no, then follow that “gut feeling” and move forward. As we say in the safety profession, “steal shamelessly.” Great leaders learn to steal the best ideas. Remember, their approach or tactics are vetted and proven.

7. Go forward boldly. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. (Just be sure to fix them faster than you make them!) Stop and assess yourself, your process and your progress often, and course-correct as needed. Mistakes are inevitable. Keep it moving.

8. Prioritize and act. Identify the one or two areas where you will receive the greatest benefit and make that your priority effort. However, always evaluate your progress, the level of reception, the level of effectiveness and be ready to make changes as needed.Remember you are the change agent, you must be willing to change.

9. Create wins for the organization. Never underestimate the power of early victories. They give people confidence to keep pushing forward, even though turning the ship is hard. Achieving an early win builds momentum. People trust leaders with a proven track record. They will accept changes from people who have led them to victory before. Remember, it is easier to steer a moving train than stop it.

10. Identify and equip other leaders. If you want to sustain change and start building momentum, you must start developing and equipping the leaders. This is something many organizations fail at. We take the best worker and make them the leader. Great principle, but horrible execution. We tend to neglect the coaching and training needed to make that person successful. Look for those who rise to the top and pour into them your coaching and mentoring efforts to see them become the best leaders possible.

When I am looking for a job, I tend to identify companies where change is needed. In Fotosearch_k21722018fact, I have been a crucial part of at least six organizations where a cultural change was required. I approach each opportunity by implementing these 10 principles. Execute these 10 principles and watch change take place.

Influential Leaders Never Use These Phrases

Believe me when I tell you that I can offend even when it is meant for praise. We’ve all said things that people interpreted much differently than we thought they would. These seemingly benign comments lead to the awful feeling that only comes when you’ve planted your foot firmly into your mouth.I recently read an article by Travis Bradbury, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0. It offered insight into what to say in a conversation. I thought I would share some highlights with you. 


1. “You look tired” – Tired people are incredibly unappealing — they have droopy eyes and messy hair, they have trouble concentrating, and they’re as grouchy as they come. Telling someone he looks tired implies all of the above and then some. Instead say: “Is everything okay?”

2. “Wow, you’ve lost a ton of weight!” – Once again, a well-meaning comment—in this case a compliment—creates the impression that you’re being critical. Telling someone that she has lost a lot of weight suggests that she used to look fat or unattractive. Instead say: “You look fantastic.”

3. “You were too good for her anyway” – When someone severs ties with a relationship of any type, personal or professional, this comment implies he has bad taste and made a poor choice in the first place. Instead say: “Her loss!”

4. “You always . . .” or “You never . . .” – No one always or never does anything. People don’t see themselves as one-dimensional, so you shouldn’t attempt to define them as such. These phrases make people defensive and closed off to your message, which is a really bad thing because you likely use these phrases when you have something important to discuss. Instead say: Simply point out what the other person did that’s a problem for you. Stick to the facts. If the frequency of the behavior is an issue, you can always say, “It seems like you do this often.” or “You do this often enough for me to notice.”

5. “You look great for your age”– Using “for your” as a qualifier always comes across as condescending and rude. No one wants to be smart for an athlete or in good shape relative to other people who are also knocking on death’s door. People simply want to be smart and fit. Instead say: “You look great.”

6. “As I said before . . .” –  We all forget things from time to time. This phrase makes it sound as if you’re insulted at having to repeat yourself, which is hard on the recipient (someone who is genuinely interested in hearing your perspective). Instead say: When you say it again, see what you can do to convey the message in a clearer and more interesting manner. This way they’ll remember what you said.

7. “Good luck”– This is a subtle one. It certainly isn’t the end of the world if you wish someone good luck, but you can do better because this phrase implies that they need luck to succeed. Instead say: “I know you have what it takes.”

8. “It’s up to you” or “Whatever you want” – While you may be indifferent to the question, your opinion is important to the person asking (or else he wouldn’t have asked you in the first place). Instead say: “I don’t have a strong opinion either way, but a couple things to consider are . . .”

9. “Well at least I’ve never…” – This phrase is an aggressive way to shift attention away from your mistake by pointing out an old, likely irrelevant mistake the other person made (and one you should have forgiven her for by now). Instead say: “I’m sorry.”

In everyday conversation, it’s the little things that make all the difference. Try these suggestions out, and you’ll be amazed at the positive response you get.

INITIATIVE MAKES A LEADER, 30 Quotes That Encourages One to Take Initiative

InitiativeInitiative is something I write on often.  In fact, my last blog was on initiative, the concept of Ready, Fire, Aim. I continue to write on this subject, because it is something that seems to be lacking in the workforce and leaders in general.  And honestly, it is an area I seem to struggle in.

By definition, leaders cannot wait.  If they do, they are not leaders, but merely followers. I think initiative takes a little bit of faith bathed in risk.  Many times, you must take initiative on something with limited knowledge or insight and rely mostly on your intuition , or “gut felling”.

For those who want to be successful and effective leaders, one must take initiative.  If we never try, we will never know.  In fact, one will always be wondering, “what if”.

The hardest thing about taking initiative, is well, taking initiative.  To help motivate and encourage you to take more initiative, here are 30 quotes that will encourage you to take initiative.

  1. “Genius is initiative on fire”, Holbrook Jackson
  2. “Initiative is doing the right things without being told”, Elbert Hubbard
  3. “Without initiative, leaders are simply workers in leadership positions”, Bo Bennett
  4. “Employers and business leaders need people who can think for themselves – who can take initiative and be the solution to problems”, Stephen Covey
  5. Never relinquish the initiative, Charles de Gaulle
  6. “Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit”, Conrad Hilton
  7. Be willing to make decisions. That’s the most important quality in a good leader. Don’t fall victim to what I call the ready-aim-aim-aim-aim syndrome. You must be willing to fire, T. Boone Pickens
  8. “I would rather regret the things I have done than the things I have not”, Lucille Ball
  9. “If you don’t make dust, you eat dust”, Motto of Jack A. MacAllister
  10. “Eagles don’t flock”,Ross Perot
  11. Even if you’re on the right track you’ll get run over if you just sit there, Will Rogers
  12. “An idea is worthless unless you use it”, John Maxwell
  13. “Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved”, William Jennings Bryan
  14. “If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to meet it”, Jonathan Winters
  15. “Everyone who’s ever taken a shower has an idea. It’s the person who gets out of the shower, dries off and does something about it who makes a difference”, Nolan Bushnell
  16. If opportunity doesn’t knock- build a door”-Milton Berle
  17. “You don’t drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there”, Edwin Louis Cole
  18. “When eagles are silent, parrots begin to chatter”, Winston Churchill
  19. “Initiative is to success what a lighted match is to a candle”, Orlando Battista
  20. “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing”, Walt Disney
  21. “The few who do are the envy of the many who only watch”, Jim Rohn
  22. “Most people spend their entire lives on a fantasy island called ‘Someday I’ll”, Denis Waitley
  23. “Chance favors those in motion”, James Austin
  24. “Just begin and the mind grows heated; continue, and the task will be completed!”, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  25. “Two sure ways to fail: Think and never do, or do and never think”, Zig Ziglar
  26. “You can’t do everything at once, but you can do something at once”, Zig Ziglar
  27. “If you want to accomplish anything in life, you can’t just sit back and hope it will happen. You’ve got to make it happen”, Chuck Norris
  28. “You don’t have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great”, Les Brown
  29. “Implement now, perfect later”, Larry Winget
  30. The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones”, William Faulkner

Initiative and Success

INSIGHTFUL THOUGHTS ON CHANGE

Change Colorful Random Shapes

Change happens.  In fact, the only constant in life , is change.  I once told someone,

“The only things I can count on are; birth, death and change!”

If the world is going to continue, then change must occur, plain and simple.  As simple as it sounds, change is not easy.  There is always some stress involved, regardless if it’s our own choosing or not.

I recently changed jobs, which to many, was somewhat of a surprise.  I left a job that I was seemingly happy at.  I made a good living and had taken a company from virtually having no safety program to being a program desired by many competitors and even customers. It was a job I was successful at and generated a lot of personal and professional gratification.

The change meant leaving an area that I loved, a house I loved and more importantly, it meant leaving my daughter, son-in-law and my 5 month old granddaughter (my first grand baby).  So why the change?  I will provide a very simple answer at the end.

For me, job changes have been a way of life.  It typically occurs every 2-3 years.  My most recent change occurred after almost five years.  I’ve always looked at change as a positive thing.  I never want to become comfortable in a position or with a job.  I believe comfort creates complacency.  I was always working hard, looking for opportunities to improve. While the most recent change has open up the opportunity for many new challenges, it has opened my eyes to the stress it causes, not only in myself, but to those closest to me.

Change is now, handwriting with chalk on blackboard

I have come to realize all change leads to stress, even when it is of our own choosing, or is something we want.  You get a new job, buy a new house, get married, or simply buy a new car!  Well congratulations hot dog!  Now you have to wait 30 days for insurance, pay your mortgage, share your bathroom, and worry about when the first scratch will happen.

Sometimes we experience change unexpectedly, without warning.  You reach a point in life where you think you have it all under control, you hold all the cards, and everything is working just the way you want it.  Then the economy stutters, revenues decline, and you hear rumors of downsizing.   How are these changes going to affect you?  Will there be money to pay the mortgage, buy that first anniversary gift or even put gas in that shiny new vehicle?

Everything changes at some point. Whatever the change, we must adapt.  By adapting, you can learn to embrace change and conquer it for success.  However,  one must have the right mindset for accepting change.

Here are 13 quotes that will help put change in perspective.  Read these quotes and latch on to the ones that motivate and speak to your heart and mind.  Not all  of them will.  But I do think they can be beneficial when change, unexpected or planned, comes your way.

  1.  “I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better.” —Georg C. Lichtenberg

  2. “The price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change.” – Bill Clinton

  3. “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” – John F. Kennedy

  4. “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” – Buckminster Fuller

  5. “Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” —Jim Rohn

  6. “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” —Henry Ford

  7. “When in doubt, choose change.” —Lily Leung

  8. “Change is inevitable. Change is constant.” —Benjamin Disraeli

  9. “Become a student of change. It is the only thing that will remain constant.” —Anthony D’Angelo

  10. “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” —Victor Frankl

  11. “You must welcome change as the rule but not as your ruler.” —Denis Waitley

  12. “Change before you have to.” —Jack Welch

  13. “Those who expect moments of change to be comfortable and free of conflict have not learned their history.” —Joan Wallach Scot

So why the change in jobs?  Because I am MOTIVATED by change and BORED by  redundancy!

Cartoon of business people who want to avoid change.

HOW TO KEEP A POSITIVE ATTITUDE IN AN UNCERTAIN ENVIRONMENT

What a week!  This has been one of unexpected personnel change.  Being a senior leader in the oil and gas services industry, I’ve learned to be flexible.  The current market has created a daily sense of the unknown.  It seems every day I’m walking through a jungle.  Mired deep into the unknown.  Everyday seems to be an adventure to maintain a positive attitude. Sleepless nights are normal.  If five hours of good REM sleep is achieved, I am satisfied and elated.  Worry and anxiety become a normal routine. Our attitudes can take a big hit in an uncertain environment.

However, it doesn’t have to be that way, because we have control over our thoughts and attitude.

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Attitude is dependent on your feelings toward something, someone or a situation.  Each person has an inward voice that encourages either self-promotion or self-defeat. Yes, there are some things that happen beyond our control. We all experience disappointment, heartache and difficult situations. However, what we do have control over is our response. Someone once said, “it’s not a matter of what’s happened to you, but rather how you respond to what’s happened.” It’s important to note here, there is a distinct difference between a response and a reaction. A reaction is “a feeling experienced in response to a situation or event.” Reactions are often quick, emotion filled responses. A response, on the other hand, involves more reason. It is a thoughtful, more appropriate answer to a certain situation.  Worry and anxiety will create the negative attitude and the inability to properly view the situation.  It creates a cloudy view.  In doing so, we are unable to properly asses the situation and take the necessary steps to correct it.

WHAT TO DO

So how does one keep a positive attitude and maintain their sanity in an uncertain environment?  I think the answer is easy, but the reality is hard.  As a person of faith, I personally look for my strength through my Lord, Jesus Christ.

However, I supplement my faith through these six (7) practical principles;

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  1. STOP, What just happened? I get an email.  There have been personnel changes.  Your phone rings, informing you of something negative. Things are going downhill fast. You’re in a tail spin, making reactive decisions that, unfortunately, compound the problem.  Things are said, actions are taken and regret begins to set in.  What do you do?  Take some time to just step back from the problem and think. This will enable you to rationally deal with the issue at hand, instead of emotionally reacting. Just remember, you don’t have to do anything.
  2. When things go in a direction I didn’t expect, I turn to prayer.  Prayer creates a mindset of humbleness.  Worry and anxiety are turned over to him. I am reminded the circumstances are out my control, why worry and be concerned?
  3. Stick with your goal. Regardless of the situation, stick with your goal and what you know. When trouble hits, it tends to steer our focus off from where it should be. When a pilot encounters trouble, they immediately move into a systematic process to try and solve the problem.  However, they are focused on the goal of landing the plane safely. If they lost sight of their goal, disaster would certainly be imminent. One of the best things to do is to write out your goal(s).  Write out what steps are needed to achieving them.
  4. Analyze and Identify a solution. Sticking with the example above. The pilot will analyze the problems and determine the best solutions.  He/she is not sitting idly by, but rather analyzing the problem and aggressively identifying solutions and next steps.
  5. Surround yourself with encouragement. We all need encouragement.  Especially in a time when situations don’t go our way.  I’ve learned if I continue to dwell on the negative, worry will begin to take over creating a slippery slope downward.  My attitude changes and I have a negative affect on all.  When our backs are against the wall, we must surround ourselves with those who love and care for us and who will encourage our next move.  I look to the scriptures for my encouragement and seek out the wisdom of those I trust.  The book of Psalms has always been a source of encouragement.
  6. Find the good. Count your blessings.  I have a new grand daughter.  My wife and I are a month from our 30th wedding Anniversary.  Things are great.  However, the negative began to creep in.  Was I next? What would we do?  My thoughts began to run wild.  I enjoy my job and my life.  How would it be without it? My thoughts controlled my analysis  I began to panic somewhat.  I immediately stopped myself and focused on the good things.  I have been here before. In 2008, I lost my job.  I was weeks from loosing my house.  I made it through that.  Spend time dwelling on the good things about your life or career instead of the problems. There is an old childhood song that says, “Count your blessings—name them one by one.” That’s great advice! Let your positive attitude develop from within as well as from without. This makes all the difference!
  7. This isn’t forever.“This too shall pass” is a common saying I typically hear from people in difficult situations.   Remember that difficult times are only a season.  Some are longer than others, however it is a season.  We all go through them.  Teddy Roosevelt said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”  There will be a future where circumstances will change and you will be on top of the mountain instead of down in the valley.

First Sun Light over Mountain Valley - Panorama.  Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

I hope none of you will ever go through anything negative or experience uncertain times.  Unfortunately the reality is you will.  We live in uncertain times.  It is becoming the norm.  There will always be upheaval in life. This will create worry and anxiety and have a negative affect on our attitudes. However, how we handle these times and our reactions will determine the outcome with others. A good attitude in difficult times will encourage others.

Remember to STOP, PRAY, STICK , REFLECT, ANALYZE and IDENTIFY SOLUTIONS, SURROUND AND REMEMBER, THIS ISN’T FOREVER!

REALLY, YOU LEAD PEOPLE?

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I read an article the other day that touched on leadership behavior.  It sparked an abundance of memories, thoughts and questions that have rolled around in my head for many years.  Quite frankly it made me look deep inside of my soul and check my heart to ensure my actions and motives line up with my moral convictions.

Look, leaders are people.  In fact, many are good people.  There is a very small percentage of leaders that act and behave poorly.  I feel I’ve probably worked for more than most.  My career has been full of poor leaders.  Heck, there are a lot of my past and present employees that might say the same about me.

The whole reason I began my leadership journey was to do everything I could NOT to make the same mistakes or do the same things I have witnessed or gone through.

Through my experience, I have identified 9 things that define poor leaders.  Here they are;

  1. IT’S ALL ABOUT YOUNo it isn’t!  In fact, we probably don’t About.me_iconcare what you did or where you went.  It is about those you lead.  When every conversation and situation is about you, it limits the interaction and contribution of others.  I’ve had many leaders more concerned about how situations affect them, than the one(s) involved or affected.
  2. HEY BUDDY -Considering those you lead as friends.  Not good. Leadership is about relationships, not friendships.  When friends and buddies don’t perform we tend to “sweep” it under the rug or make excuses, rather than hold them accountable.  This creates descension and frustration with other employees.  Build relationships, not friendships.  I’ve seen many leaders lose credibility over the hiring or advancement of friends or relatives many times.  I am not saying you can’t hire employees from the past or those who supported and assisted you at other jobs.  I was the best man at my Director of EHS’ wedding 29 years ago.  However, I bet he will tell you that he is held to the same accountability level as anyone else.  In fact, I expect more out of him, than most.
  3. HORRIBLE LISTENER blah, blah, blah…….  This leader doesn’t care what you have to say.  They are only concerned with what’s coming out of his mouth.  Their EGO gets in the way.  Hey man, you were given 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason.  You need to listen twice as much as you talk.  Give people a chance to say something.  Who knows, what they have to say might solve the problem.
  4. WHAT ARE YOU THINKING? -Poor communicators can reduce and harm aculture and frustrate employees quickly. Many employees complain about the lack of communication from leadership.  What are my expectations, Fotosearch_k10378786How is the company performing?, Will there be raises or bonuses this year?  As I coach leaders, I encourage them to have weekly or monthly communication meetings.  This is a time where all they do is communicate key information and allow employees an opportunity to ask questions.
  5. DON’T TEXT ME -Technology is great, but technology has created a diminishing environment of face to face communication.  How many times have you received a text or email and interrupted it as negative?  Texting and emails are very difficult to communicate a tone.  A face to face visit is the best way to properly communicate.  I can see your facial expressions and body language and I can react or change my tone or words to ensure effective communication.  If you can’t meet face to face, call them, and don’t leave a voice mail to cover your items.
  6. REALLY?Hear’s a thought……Get both sides of the story before you make a decision.  One of the most frustrating things for employees is when a leader makes decisions based on a one sided conversation.  One of the traits of a leader is to be open and accessible.
    However, that doesn’t mean you base your decisions on the conversations of one individual.  I found many times, my accessibility and openness has allowed individuals to voice their displeasure with a supervisor, rule or practice only to find out in my follow-up conversation the individual was disciplined or held accountable for failure to comply with or follow directions, etc.
  7. THAT WILL NEVER WORKBeing cynical is not a trait of a leader.  In fact, it is totally opposite.  I think cynical leaders feel threatened. They must discount or even put down a person’s ideas because they feel as if they are not a leader if they don’t have Fotosearch_k5253244the answer.  Cynical leaders say; “No, that’s not going to work” or, “I don’t know why we are doing this; this is stupid.”  Look, if something is stupid, then the leader needs to fix it.  If something is not worth doing or is going to create major problems, it’s your responsibility to facilitate other ideas.  Regardless, you must thank and encourage those who offer ideas and opinions, not BELITTLE them!
  8. THAT’S DISGUSTING! Just because you can say it, doesn’t make it right.  Foul language is wrong and unprofessional.   For some reason, leaders feel they have the right to use foul language and tell questionable stories in front of their staff or employees.  I recently had a leader use very disgusting language in reference to a football game. It stunned the group.  No one knew how to react.  I have had several occasions where leaders would use foul language in an email or text.  Regardless of the communication, it is WRONG!  Some have told me, “you have to talk in the language of the industry”. What?  Come on man!!  If that is the case, then we need to clean up the industry!  It doesn’t matter if you are playing, it is your normal language or if you are angry, foul language is wrong, no matter what!  Whether it’s anger, disgust or this is how you talk to your friends, you can’t bring it to the office.
    I can tell if a person has leadership qualities by the way they talk to others.
  9. YOU CROSSED THE LINE!Leaders who compromise their integrity for business or profits are FOOLS!   A lack of integrity from leaders doesn’t just annoy employees, it appalls them. In fact, when a leader shows a lack of integrity, employees become de-motivated.  When a boss breaks or fudges the rules, cheats, lies or indulges in behaviors that reveal a lack of moral principles, he loses respect. images7-220x147 respect, you can’t influence.  If you can’t influence, you can’t lead.  In addition, when a leader lacks integrity, he gives employees permission to do the same.  I’ve seen leaders compromise their integrity and moral values to be validated by others.  I have personally seen this take place and the destruction it causes.  A true leader will never comprise their moral integrity for validations.

Being a leader is about doing the right thing and leading by example. You simply cannot have one standard for yourself and one for everyone else. Treat people the way you would want to be treated.

If some of these sound familiar, then do something to correct them immediately.  The longer you continue the easier it is to continue.

Don’t Be a Liar in 2016, Identify Principles, Not Resolutions

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As you consider 2016, commit to what makes you better, not what makes you a liar.

Resolutions will make a liar out of you every time!  Instead, focus on the things you can control and achieve. It is all about your principles.

Here are 11 principles I am committed to in 2016.

  • SET WRITTEN GOALS –  Have WRITTEN goals that are achievable, but stretch you personally and professionally.  However, make sure you have some that are easy wins.  The easy wins motivate me to attack the more difficult one’s.
  • BECOME A BETTER COMMUNICATOR – Learn to listen more and ask great questions.  I had this on my list last year. Biggest issue I have.  I love to hear my own voice.  However, I found I can help more people by listening more than talking and engaging that person with relevant smart questions.  As a better listener, I can serve those I lead and company employees better and more effectively.
  • BECOME MORE ENGAGED – I continue to believe that every professional must be engaged in the work of those they lead, or as a safety professional, we must truly understand what people do, how they do it and what barriers exist.  You can’t influence if you don’t know how to add value!!  I put over 35,000 miles on my vehicle visiting locations and employees!
  • BE MORE PATIENT – Learn to be more patient with people and be more patient for the desired results.  Another challenge for me. Realize that it takes time to see results.  Leaders are leading to change a culture.  It takes time to change the way people think. Know what you want the end result to be and work steadily and patiently towards that.
  • BREAK DOWN BARRIERS – Identify what is creating friction.  Is it a person? a process?, lack of communication? Departments or individuals with competing agendas can slow or stall goals and affect company and individual performance.  Realize we are not in competition with each other, but rather we are in competition with the competition.  Be transparent, share information and help others succeed.  Zig Ziglar said;

You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

  • BECOME RESILIENT TO FAILURE – Along the same thought process as patience, you must become resilient to failure.  beresilient-pocketcards-new1-1020x1020_4403_700x700Learn to fail forward.  Your approach to failure will have an impact on the outcome.  Embrace the failure and use it to gain success.
  • BE PROACTIVE – Become more aware of trends within the organization.  By listening to the talk and becoming aware of people’s actions, the words they choose and the trends within the industry, you can create or make changes to programs, goals and training that allows you to stay ahead of the “game”.  For Safety Professionals like myself, that means a reduction of risk resulting in less incidents.
  • TAKE MORE CHANCES -Ready, Fire, Aim!!! Doesn’t everyone in my group and company hear that a lot.  Just ask them.    I learned this term 25 years ago at another company. I believe if you don’t take chances, you won’t be successful.  John Maxwell says, “first always wins”.  Be creative.  Think differently to solve problems or make things better. Identify what needs to be done, DO IT and we will improve it.  If you never do it, you will never know the result.
  • NETWORK MORE – Networking is the single greatest activity you can do to increase your net worth.  My connection to an individual, put me in the position I hold now.  I now make more money and have the best job  I’ve ever had!  It is frequently said that “it is not what you know but who you know”.  It amazes my how many professionals do not make an effort to network.  I lost my job in November 2008.  It was through a former associate that I received my next job.  Networking is crucial for career advancement and recognition as a true professional or expert.  BE ACTIVE ON LINKED and keep your profile up to date.  I am consistently surprised (shouldn’t be) at how many professionals (especially sales) do not even have a LinkedIn profile.  You never know when you will need help and who can help!
  • VOLUNTEER/SERVE MORE – Become active in your community, professional organizations, church , etc.  JUST VOLUNTEER!!  I volunteer on a couple of boards, I am President Elect (President in second half of year) for my local professional organization, AVP for the Regional Professional Organization, speak for free at multiple organizations and conferences,  and volunteer my time with the local high schools in the OKC area.  I believe this builds character and humility while making others better.
  • INVEST IN YOURSELF – How can you lead others, if you don’t grow your yourself?  You can’t!!  READ,READ, READ…………….fiction and non-fiction.  Reading stimulates the brain and expands your creativity.  I use to hate to read, now I love it.  invest-in-yourself-600x300My goal is to read at least 1 new book per month.  Reading gives me a lot of my ideas and creates a sense of knowledge for solving most problems.  If I don’t know the answer, I read.  Commit to attending meetings, conferences and training that stretches you and provides a greater expansion of your personal and professional knowledge.

I quit making New Year’s Resolutions a long time ago. Ok, Ok, Ok, I will eat less fatty foods, cut down on the sweets (maybe) and exercise  more.  I never succeeded or followed through with many of my new year’s resolutions.  Instead, I’ve learned to identify things I would do daily, monthly or throughout the year to make me an overall better person.

That’s how I  came up with these 11 things.  This isn’t the first time I wrote these.  This has been my life for the last few years.  These 11 principles continue to mold and shape me and will make meFotosearch_k12215246 a better husband, father, GRANDFATHER (in April), professional, leader and overall a better person.

What about you?