MY FOCUS THIS YEAR IS BUILDING STRONG RELATIONSHIPS

Build relationships by influencing what you expect, reflect what you desire, Become what you respect, and mirror what you admire.”

UNKNOWN

It’s a new year!! Many of you have come up with new year goals on improving and changing things. It could be eating healthier, getting more sleep, hitting the gym, or improving personal growth. But, let’s admit, this is a typical American tradition to forget or quit early into the new year. My goal is to focus on building stronger relationships with my coworkers throughout the entire year. 

But how do I build strong relationships with every coworker? Relationships give us the ability to build respect, trust and ultimately allow us to influence. As you look at your relationships at work, there is no one you spend more time with than those you work with. 

Building relationships doesn’t mean you have to create a friendship. It means your colleagues must have confidence in what you say and suggest. I was recently put in a different role where it is critical to have strong relationships with every team member.

Building relationships doesn’t mean you have to create a friendship. It means your colleagues must have confidence in what you say and suggest. I was recently put in a different role where it is critical to have strong relationships with every team member. Even though I have focused most of my last 15 years on growing my leadership, I tend to want things my way, and everyone else doesn’t know what they are doing or talking about. So, I want to change my approach to ensure I build a strong relationship with each person. 

Here are 8 things I am focusing on to build stronger relationships.

  1. I will focus on people through my perception.  Your self-awareness, self-esteem, and self-perception establish the foundation of all your relationships. How you view yourself and life shapes how you see and relate to others.
  2. “People don’t care how much you know till they know how much you care.” Caring about people isn’t automatic. Not everyone cares. I’m sure you’ve run into people along the way that it’s clear that they don’t care. You can’t learn to care, it’s not a skill, but you can decide to care. 
  3. I will really listen. This is a game-changer. One of the most remarkable ways to build relationships with anyone is to listen genuinely. I am often in a hurry to give my viewpoint. I always want people not to “STOP TALKING, QUIT WASTING OXYGEN.” So, when you slow down for a minute or an hour and truly listen, you communicate that you value that person. 
  4. Hurting people hurts people. When your response to a situation is greater than the issue at hand, the real issue is always about something else. Strong leaders figure out how to get to the real issue.
  5. I will admit when I’m wrong, ask for forgiveness and forgive others quickly. Taking responsibility for your actions is the core to achieving solid relationships. If you make a mistake, own it. If you treat someone poorly, ask forgiveness. You might be correct, but if you need to win, you’ll lose in the long run.
  6. I will determine how to add value to people. You can add value to people in simple ways. Adding value is no more complex than the idea of how you contribute to them. It can be as simple as a kind and encouraging word, and it can be as involved as a lifetime of mentoring. Your relationships with others will give you the knowledge of how to add value to them. 
  7. I will strive to encourage my colleagues. We all know the answer but let me ask anyway. Have you ever been encouraged too much by anyone? Of course not. Your encouragement will create a strong relationship and increase your leadership.
  8. I will build Trust through my strong relationships. When it comes down to relationships, Trust is critical. But, unfortunately, at times, we will reduce Trust. Trust is like having a pocket full of coins. When I build Trust, I place more coins in my pocket; when I reduce Trust, I lose coins. The idea is to never run out of coins in your pocket, and you will maintain a level of Trust. This reflects your character and, ultimately, who you are.

I identified these focus items by reflecting on the last couple of years, identifying what I do well in building relationships and what I need to improve on. Some of these will be easy to achieve; however, many will challenge me this year. But I desire to make this year a successful year in building solid relationships and exceeding expectations. 

Let me strongly encourage you to consider these 10 focus items and make the necessary adjustments to achieve an intense year!

“A relationship is not perfect, you will fight over and over, but as long as you make-up, everything will be alright.”

UNKNOWN

Denis is an Executive Director at the John Maxwell Group, is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior, Consultant. Denis is currently the Director of Health & Safety for Ferguson Enterprises. 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 training, DISC Behavioral consulting, or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.

How to Succeed in Effective Communication

“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” 

– George Bernard Shaw

Have you ever discussed something intended to be formal and set direction to your team or colleagues only to learn that no one can remember what you said or where they need to go? Unfortunately, this occurs many times when I talk or write.

It’s impossible to be an effective leader without learning how to be an effective communicator. I have learned that those who can communicate become the most influential leaders.

The good thing is we can all grow in our communication capabilities. 

Here are seven (7) standards for effective communication. These standards are realistically practical both in personal and professional communication.

1. Understand who you’re talking to – know who you are talking to, their concerns or interests, and what approach will result in effective communication.

CONSIDER: Who am I talking to, and what do they need or want to know?

2. Be Clear and Concise in Your Message – Be crystal clear and concise about your message. Everything you say or write should support your message. 

CONSIDER: What is it that I need to communicate?

3. Be Sure You Know What You Want To Accomplish Out of Your Conversation – When you speak or write, know what results you want to accomplish. If you don’t know what you want, they probably won’t either. If you don’t say it, you can’t expect them to guess accurately.

CONSIDER: What is the single most crucial outcome needed to accomplish with this message?

4. Actively Listen – Active listening keeps you engaged with your conversation positively. Active listening is the process of listening attentively while someone else speaks, paraphrases, and even reflecting on what is said without holding judgment and advice. When you practice active listening, you make the other person feel valued. Thus, active listening is the foundation for any successful conversation.

CONSIDER: Do I understand what they are saying and why? 

5. Cultivate Your Confidence. – Confidence is a combination of belief, ability, action, and humility. Suppose you believe in yourself – practice. If you lack the ability – ask for help. If you lack action – create accountability. If you lack humility–realize you don’t know what you don’t know.

CONSIDER: Which is my most important area of growth right now: belief, ability, action, or humility?

6. Have A Clear and Concise Outcome Expectation – What do you want a listener or reader to do with what you’ve said? Tell them. People are more likely to act when you’ve made the right action obvious.

CONSIDER: What response do I want from this audience?

7. Communicate Often – They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. But most of the time, people forget. Repeat important messages regularly. Don’t assume you only have to say something once.

CONSIDER: What different methods or approaches can I use to repeat or reinforce my message?

Great communicators choose their words well, understand their audience, and connect with them at the right time and place. By applying these tips and practicing, you can master the skills and learn to be an effective communicator.

By following these 7 standards you will become a Great Communicator!

Denis is an Executive Director at the John Maxwell Group, is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior, Consultant. Denis is currently the Director of Health & Safety for Ferguson Enterprises. 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 who desire to become influential leaders. 

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

HOW TO BUILD YOUR LEADERSHIP WITH INTEGRITY

The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower

You don’t need to read much to realize that leaders focus intensely on their reputations. 

When companies conduct surveys and or assessments, most employees rate integrity as the essential leadership trait. A more significant percentage of employees considered it the top quality of an executive and people managers. 

Having integrity generates respect and trust. People want to work for ethical people; we all know that if our leader acts with integrity, they will treat them right and do what’s best for the business and the people.

Leaders with integrity will strengthen the business and increase employee morale. In addition, companies with strong, ethical leadership teams enhance their ability to attract investors, customers, and talented people. However, integrity begins at the top and works its way through the organization to create a culture that values integrity.

Leaders need to realize their words, actions, decisions, and methodologies help create their actual values and culture. How we approach actions and what we do and say is particularly crucial for leaders. We must be people of integrity. Everyone is watching how we respond to business and personal situations. We either draw people to our influence, or we repel them with our lack of integrity.

To build your leadership, you must incorporate the TRUTH into YOUR integrity. 

“Integrity is telling the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people”

Spencer Johnson

To accomplish this, you must make these four commitments;

  1. Speak the truth plainlyBe honest, and treat people well. Don’t exaggerate successes, and be quick to praise others’ contributions. As a leader,  YOUR word should stand on its own. 
  2. Share the truth completelyLying is when you intentionally mislead others by either falsifying or concealing information. Half the truth is a whole lie. There are situations we need to have hard yet honest conversations with our employees. If we back from these conversations, we can’t say we are a leader of integrity. I am consistently tempted to hold back the truth because I don’t want to deal with the consequences. But after 30+ years of leadership, I’ve learned this always backfires. In the end, people respect honesty. Truth often hurts, but dishonesty leaves lasting scars.
  3. Use the truth tactfullyTo build a culture of integrity, behaviors change faster when people know the truth is wrapped in care. Truth without love is always seen as an attack. Without showing care, all of our actions mean nothing. If you don’t care for the people you’re sharing the truth with, stop sharing it. Your truth-telling will never produce lasting results. If you’re trying to get something off your chest, you’re not speaking in respect. Just because you’re willing to share the truth doesn’t mean the other person is ready to hear it. The solution to any conflict is not deception; it’s tact. You can use your words to heal or hurt, make a point or make an enemy. Leaders also need to hold themselves accountable. They must treat everyone fairly, regardless of a person’s standing in the organization.
  4. Live the truth consistentlyIntegrity isn’t being honest 80 percent of the time. Partial honesty is dishonesty. Integrity is a requirement for leadership because all leadership is based on trust. If people don’t trust you, you can’t lead them. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable with your staff. If you make a mistake, say so and do all you can to fix it. Your employees don’t expect you to be perfect, and you will alienate them if you cannot admit fault when things go wrong.

SO WHAT, NOW WHAT

“The time is always right to do what is right”

Martin Luther King

As I constantly think about increasing my leadership and influence, I try to maintain strong integrity. Am I always successful? NO, but my heart desires to lead people with integrity, influence, and skill.

Take the time to consider these four commitments and take action where necessary. Together, we can change the world!

Denis is an Executive Director at the John Maxwell Group, is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior, Consultant. Denis is currently the Director of Health & Safety for Ferguson Enterprises. 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 training, DISC Behavioral consulting, or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.

WHEN YOU HIT A SLUMP, DON’T JUMP

I don’t sleep, I lay in bed longer than I ever have in years, I get frustrated over the littlest things, people don’t follow the rules and expectations. I think I have fallen into a slump. I ask myself regularly, “is it worth the effort to try and fix this? I’ll answer that in a bit.

Baseball players fall into hitting slumps, the stock market hits slumps, restaurants and retail chains have slumped, running backs can’t gain any yards, NASCAR drivers can’t win a race. Of course, leaders fall into slumps. Come on, we all fall into slumps!

It can be challenging to know when we fall into a slump because it is hard to define when and where it began. But I think we all know when we are in one.

When a leader falls into a slump, the influential leaders will fight their way out. The others will look for the easy way out. We can fall into a slump at any time. Many leaders have found themselves in multiple situations during this past challenging year, where they fall into a slump or two or three. I know I have fallen into slumps several times and have had to work hard to recover fully. 

What are some signs of a slump?

  • Not meeting budgets
  • Not addressing customer needs
  • I can’t get the sales I need to make the salary I am used to
  • The plan isn’t being executed or isn’t working
  • People aren’t following expected safety behaviors or following our policies and procedures
  • My team won’t respond to my expectations

When we fall into a slump, we are often tempted to look for a faster way out. We become somewhat fixated on looking for a short cut to fix everything. Sometimes short cuts put us in an even deeper slump. It may not be now, but it can certainly affect tomorrow. Crawling out of a slump can be a challenge; it is grueling and can be a long road to recovery. We are struggling; the lure of an invincible shortcut can be irresistible.

Giving in to a shortcut can result in a high cost of negativity;

Loss of credibility

  • Loss of respect
  • Loss of trust
  • Confusion among the team
  • Slowing of momentum
  • Reduction in your influence

So, what are these leadership shortcuts? Here are three of the most common shortcuts leaders take when trying to get out of their slump.

Creating policies or procedures

Achieving the vision requires a leader to move people forward. It requires influence, high-performance team members, responsibility, and accountability. But instead of doing this hard work, leaders tend to opt instead to churn out a few policies and procedures. I understand policies and procedures play a significant part in business; however, they can’t be the result of a slumping leader.

Losing it!

When a person loses their cool, it’s like a child throwing a temper tantrum. Our frustration comes out, so we pitch a fit. It’s like we are creating an atmosphere of fear and manipulation. Leadership is not about fear, manipulation, and position; it is about persuasion, engagement, and influence.  

Do it, and create another shortcut.

Reorganizing

Reorganize your team, your vision …or anything else.

A leader paralyzed with indecision will whip out a piece of paper, run to a whiteboard and start drawing boxes, circles, and lines with abandon.

A new and exciting thing will emerge in time, and the resulting change will provide another illusion that real leadership has taken place.

But, once again, it’s just another shortcut.

SO WHAT, NOW WHAT

Shortcuts, really? Shortcuts are not the solution to the situation, rather they are a temporary fix to creating an everlasting leadership challenge. Leadership can be difficult. Pulling yourself out of the slump requires a lot of effort; moving forward requires a tremendous effort and determination. 

Go deeper, not wider. Going deep will lead to wide.

In difficult times, it can be very attractive to take a shortcut. But resist the easy way “out” and instead be committed to the hard work of leadership.

To answer my question up top, it is worth fixing your slump; the results will be worth it.

WHAT KIND OF SAFETY LEADER DOES YOUR ORGANIZATION NEED

Need Leadership Quotes For Inspiration? We Found All The Best Ones ...

For every organization that employs people, the safety of the people is a critical part of organizational success.

Safety methods must be fully integrated into the entire organization, from finance down to daily operations. This ensures safety is always being considered regardless of the conversation being had or activities being considered. 

Being a leader in the current year has undoubtedly put a magnifying glass on this truth. With the number of job losses, the reduction of budgets, and the need to think differently, we have fallen into an unprecedented challenge for the safety of our people. However, we must realize that without workers, companies can’t succeed. So the need to ensure the safety of our workforce is critical.

In our efforts to ensure people’s safety, leaders must be effective influencers to establish or change expected behaviors. To be an effective influencer, leaders need to know what markers are critical to their success. 

What kind of safety leader does your company need? The answer to this question is; All leaders are safety leaders.

To send you in the right direction, I have identified four crucial markers of an effective safety leader.

BE PASSIONATE AND HAVE COMPELLING PURPOSE

Passionate leaders are fully engaged and committed to supporting the safety of their people. When you’re in the presence of a passionate leader, your senses become stimulated, and your emotions are increased as you pick up their positive, contagious attitude and energy. People who work for passionate leaders tend to exhibit very safe behaviors.

If you are not passionate about what you believe, what you do or the safety of your people, THEN DON’T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU ON THE WAY OUT!

However, as a passionate leader, you need a vision that drives people forward. Realize that everything you do matters! Great lives are produced when they’re committed to a great cause—and the most significant purpose is the safety and success of people.

BE CLEAR IN YOUR PERCEPTION

There are two types of thoughts: those who view the glass half-full, and those who see the glass as half-empty. This is called perception, and our perceptions profoundly impact how we view things. After all, our perception determines our reality. “Perception molds, shapes, and influences our experience of reality,” says Linda Humphreys, Ph.D. 

In other words, we believe what we perceive, and we create our realities based on those perceptions. 

“You must see past your perception to visualize the reality that is coming.” –

Denis Baker, CSP 

Anytime you attempt something, especially change, trouble and resistance will come your way. 

BE CONSISTENCY IN YOUR APPROACH

The term “consistency” is not referring o all leaders are the same. It merely means that whatever style, management techniques, or leadership traits you exhibit, you must implement them consistently. A leader must be predictable, as consistency and predictability are positive traits that provide respect and ultimately allows the influence of others. In most work environments, especially now, leaders are faced with a whirlwind of change, and the leader must provide stability in their leadership.

Inconsistent leaders sometimes require a lot of detail, and on other occasions, need little detail. Sometimes they want you to seek their approval, then later question why you brought the same approval request. That causes a lack of respect and decreases your influence. 

The bottom line is that people working for inconsistent leaders often spend unnecessary time wondering how to proceed or harboring resentment because they cannot predict what the leader wants. This substantially slows down the organization’s and reduces its effectiveness. 

“The lack of consistency results in the lack of safe behaviors, which results in more injuries.” –

Denis Baker, CSP

BE COURAGEOUS AND PERSISTENT

To tackle change, you can’t give up. You must keep doing what you feel is right, no matter what happens. Just because you show courage during difficult times doesn’t mean you’re not afraid. Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is moving ahead despite your fear.

Persistence is one of the critical markers of an effective leader. To gain persistence requires determination and a mindset that — no matter what happens — you will stick to your principles. Persistence is equivalent to running a marathon. The time you spend training and preparing, and what you do leading up to the race will determine how well you perform. To effectively influence others, you have to work hard and continually find ways to motivate, build respect, and consistently stand your ground.

You became a leader for a reason; success in leadership comes from developing and perfecting courageous persistence. 

People’s safety rises and falls on your leadership.

As a Leader, Will You Stand For What You Believe

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

John C. Maxwell

Will you to take a stand for what you believe?  

Most leaders won’t! 

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

Why people are unwilling to stand for what they believe

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

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

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

” Sometimes being a leader means pissing people off!

Collin Powell

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

Taking a stand hurts

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

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

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

True leaders have to take a stand for what they believe

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

BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE

Your mouth is poison; your mouth is wine.

–The Civil Wars

WHAT WE SAY MATTERS

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

My house! Is out of the ordinary

 That’s right! Don’t wanna hurt nobody

 Some things sure can sweep me off my feet

 Burning down the house

Let me break down these lyrics based on our words; 

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

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

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

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

OUR WORDS ARE POWERFUL

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some things to consider about our words:

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

So What Now What

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

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

The True Test of Leadership Is The Ability To Grow

“The truest test of leadership is how well you function in a crisis”

– BRIAN TRACY

The sun is so hot on my face as I lay in the warm sand with the breeze blowing across my body. As I open my eyes, I see nothing but blue skies and the shimmering crystal clear water. I hear the sounds of seagulls, waves crashing onto the shore. I stand up and can feel the warm sand between my toes as I walk back to my chair and reach for my umbrella drink………………BUT wait, what is that? I hear a siren. All of a sudden I shake my head and realize I was daydreaming and the siren brought me back to the reality of the crisis we are currently experiencing.

With the extended voluntary and required lockdowns, I am sure many of you find yourself daydreaming, just like I did. But in this time of crisis, we need to focus on growing our leadership to ensure we take care of our people and those around us. 

The crisis we are currently experiencing is about the people we lead and their families. As I think of topics to write about, I realize we cannot be validated as a leader if we are not committed to to continual growth.

I’ve identified 9 ways to grow your leadership.

It’s about others

There is a great deal of fear, anxiety, and even anger going around. Remember that we are all humans. Regardless of your position, you are experiencing some of the same issues your team is experiencing. Look for ways to recognize other’s anxiety, concerns, and frustrations and find ways to reach out and show compassion.

Focus on what you can control

Don’t waste time and energy on issues you can’t control or influence. Focus on actions that produce value for your team, customers, organization, and your family.

LEAD don’t react 

Determine the direction to go and take your people there. Don’t be reactionary. Be intentional. Lead your people.

Leaders are transparent

The people you lead want to know what’s going on and how it will work out. It doesn’t matter if you believe this is overblown or the most significant health crisis in the world. Leaders define the stories that people tell themselves. Be intentional in your transparency to your team.

Identify new customer needs 

Talk to your customers. Find out how this crisis is impacting them. Are there new services or products that you can offer that are helpful at this time? Be flexible and consider all options to make your services more value-added to your customers.

Innovative solutions and partnerships

If your business is slowing down, can you share employees with a company that is temporarily picking up? Be creative.

Communicate 

Communicate encouragement, hope, and solutions. Talk to your employees, customers, and suppliers. In times of crisis, people want two things: Accurate information and empathy. Some people lean towards information. Others lean towards compassion. But give both. Communicate frequently, repeatedly, and openly. You aren’t likely to communicate too much, but it’s easy not to communicate enough.

Embrace the change

With the current crisis, change is inevitable. Look for ways to improve. People are expecting changes. We are in a time to implement change, especially if it brings more value to your customers, employees, or business.

Take care of yourself 

Get enough sleep, eat right, and be grateful. Remember to breathe and move your body. Limit exposure to the anxiety of others, especially news and social media.

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

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!

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

FEAR LESS AS A LEADER, From a Safety Professional Perspective

“Your Only Limit Is You. Be Brave And Fearless in Everything You Do”

Fears hold us back from achieving our success. As a leader, fear hinders the engagement of your passion. It opens the door for workers and leadership to take advantage of you and the situation. However, when you overcome your fear, you establish a deeper dependance on your personal growth and leadership.

Fear and overcoming fear are critical parts of our ability to lead others. In my role as a Safety Professional, I find myself fearing to make a decision or give advice that might affect production or create a morale challenge. I believe anyone who says they don’t have fear, probably needs to re-evaluate themselves. Fear lives within us all. Think about this:

You are flying from your hometown to Hawaii with your family for a much-deserved vacation. It has been a challenging year for all of you. About 3 hrs into the flight; over water and away from land, you notice smoke coming from the right engine. You notify the flight attendant, and she immediately runs and notifies the captain. Others are seeing smoke also. A buzz of fear and panic, including members of your family, begin to take over the cabin. The captain comes over the intercom (difficult to hear because of all the screaming) and says they must land in the ocean……….Has fear entered your thoughts?

I don’t think it matters who you are, how tough you are, or what your role in the organization is, I suspect anyone reading this would answer my question with a YES.

Throughout my career, I have faced fear numerous times. When you are in a profession where you have a passion for people, but are in a support role and do not have authority, there are times when you must make difficult decisions. These situations tend to put fear in our hearts and heads and sometimes can affect the outcome of the situation. 

I’ve identified five of my most common fears as a safety professional. You’ll recognize the fears because I believe anyone within the profession (even outside the profession) deals with similar situations regardless of industry or position.

  • Fear of Inadequacy – Do I know what the answer to the question is? What does the standard say we need to do about this situation? What if I tell them the wrong thing? If I’m wrong, will they disrespect me and not come to me for direction in the future? 
  • Fear of Disapproval – Will I be challenged on my decisions? Is my choice going to result in a meeting with my Plant Manager? Will my decision and direction create an atmosphere of negative energy and a loss in employee morale. Will my decision set our culture back?
  • Fear of Confrontation – Will our interaction become a hostile vocal or physical confrontation? Will they ignore me?
  • Fear of Isolation – Will they not like me? Will they invite me to lunch? Will my relationships be broken? Will I be alone?

All of these fears are felt by many, if not all, safety professionals. I will also say that anybody in any position will experience similar worries. I’ve seen each of them disrupt strong cultures and effect performance. If you’re facing any of these fears, it doesn’t mean there’s something defective about you. These fears are universal; they show that you’re human.

You will face fears. No degree can prepare you to meet them. So how do you combat your fears?

  1. Build relationships. This creates an opportunity to generate a positive attitude and motivate people.
  2. Connect with people in positions that generate your fear. Once you have that relationship and connection, the person(s) will consider you a part of the team.
  3. Build trust. Follow through on your commitment. If you can’t, then be humble and admit your mistakes.
  4. Make sure your directions and decisions add value to both the workers and leadership. People will only follow the instruction when they know it will add value to them.
  5. INFLUENCE! By accomplishing all of the above items, you will be able to influence others to change behaviors, think before performing the task, and ensure others are working safely also. 

Your approach to situations determines your ability to minimize or eliminate your fears. Here is how you should face your fear:

  • If a situation puts you in fear, step back, and take a few moments to breathe through it, think of the possible consequences and how you will handle them.
  • Walk away and call someone for advice.
  • Remind yourself that your fear is a storehouse of wisdom
  • Use humor to relieve the tense environment
  • Be flexible. If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got! Many things can be done differently and will achieve the desired outcome.
  • Realize that influential leaders have to do the “difficult right things.” Sometimes the initial result is a challenge, but the long-term outcome will always be positive.

Our ability to manage fear becomes an asset to the safety of the workforce. It also contributes to the success of your organization and, ultimately, your success as a Safety Professional. You will create an environment of teamwork and collaboration that offers employees and leadership the opportunity to engage in decisions, creating a feeling of inclusion and buy-in.

“If something excites and scares you at the same time, it probably means you should do it.”

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