Turbo Leadership Systems

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Issue 103 To our clients and friends November 28, 2006
Don’t Be a Hardhead, Wear Your Hardhat
Larry W. Dennis, Sr.
Turbo Leadership

Walk your talk

Dan, a project superintendent for a large general contractor in eastern Washington, told Session 4A of the Leadership Development LAB:

“We were on the final stage of a water treatment plant in Cle Elum, Washington. All the underground work and buildings were finished. The general superintendent made the decision to put me inside with our pipe fitters because I had a broad knowledge of the job. On my first day, we were less than an hour into the shift and the job had progressed to the stage where it was time to install the overhead pipe hangers. Just overhead there were two pipe fitters beginning to install the pipe hangers. They were approximately 16’ in the air. I made a comment about working under them and that I would probably need a steel hardhat. Both of the pipe fitters laughed and assured me I had nothing to worry about. In spite of their reassurance, I followed standard practice and put on a steel hardhat instead of the plastic one I normally wear. Less than 15 minutes later, one of the pipe fitters dropped a spud wrench. It hit me right square on top of the steel hardhat I had just put on. My head shook and my ears rang from the big bang, and my neck was even a little sore the next day, but this sure beats a split skull, a trip to the hospital, or worse, to the morgue. Boy was I glad to have my steel hardhat on!

The lesson I learned from this experience is to always follow the

company’s safety practices; to wear my personal protective equipment, not to try and be macho, no matter how innocent or safe the job may seem.

The action I call you to take is avoid working under people if at all possible. Any time you go into an area where there could be any risk, take all appropriate safety measures, follow all of your company’s standard safety practices, even if, especially if others laugh at you, you can set the standard with your positive safety example. The benefit you will gain is a safe, injury-free jobsite. You and all your crew will go home at the end of the day with your head on your shoulder.

This is a great example of how important it is for leaders to walk the talk, set the example and tone by following even the simplest guidelines for excellence in all areas of endeavor. Taking shortcuts suggests that there are two standards; one for you and one for me. It is surprising to me how often leaders can acquiesce to the social or cultural pressures of the organization, and in so doing, give up any opportunity to lead, to influence the team. Instead the organization influences them. This is not empowering leadership! Dan’s example provides us with a simple and profound example of the important part leadership plays in creating a high performance culture.”


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