2018 Leadership

Sandy Says: Passion and Purpose

Dec. 12, 2017
“Leaders must exemplify integrity and earn the trust of their teams through their everyday actions. When you do this, you set high standards for everyone at your company. And when you do so with positive energy and enthusiasm for shared goals and purpose, you can deeply connect with your team and customers.” Marillyn A. Hewson, chairwoman, president and CEO of Lockheed Martin.

“Leaders must exemplify integrity and earn the trust of their teams through their everyday actions. When you do this, you set high standards for everyone at your company. And when you do so with positive energy and enthusiasm for shared goals and purpose, you can deeply connect with your team and customers.” Marillyn A. Hewson, chairwoman, president and CEO of Lockheed Martin.

I received an email this week from a very – make that VERY!!!! – irate reader. It was the kind of email that makes me wonder why I came into work that day. I definitely was not feeling thankful.

He accused me (and pretty much all media outlets) of not doing my research, of publishing inaccurate information and pointed out, rightly so upon reflection, that an article I wrote for our web site about three tower employees who fell to their deaths mentioned previous OSHA citations for a previous incarnation of the company. Some were issued to the current owners, and some were for a previous owner.

Although I noted that the current owner was not the previous owner, the reader’s point was: Why even mention citations received by a previous owner? Different owner… Different employees… Potentially very different culture… And he was right.

While I disagreed with some of the other points he made – and I explained why – I told him I would edit the article to reflect his comments about the previous OSHA citations.

He responded back – a couple of times – sharing his experience and perspective. The message that carried across from his comments was not that he was angry with me, something he even noted, but that he was angry about misconceptions people had about his industry and specifically about safety efforts in his industry.

His last email to me stated: “I thank you for your correction, your time and professionalism. You have earned my respect.” That was a far cry from his initial email, which said in part: “As a worker in the TV tower construction industry for more than 24 years I would urge the media (in this case, me) to verify or at least semi-verify the ‘mud’ you sling in reporting your news.”

I am thankful for that reader. I’m thankful for his passion, his knowledge and his willingness to reach out to me. Don’t get me wrong; I wasn’t thrilled with his initial approach or message (and he wasn’t thrilled with mine), but in the end, we had a better understanding of each other and realized we probably had more in common than not.

When I think about him and our email conversation, I am reminded how important conversation and communication is to my position here at EHS Today and to your positions as EHS professionals. As I write this, I’m preparing for our rescheduled Safety Leadership Conference and I’m excited about meeting the representatives from the companies named as America’s Safest Companies for 2017.

Their enthusiasm – not only about winning, but about the practice of EHS and the dedication and engagement of their corporate leaders and employees – is inspiring to me. They are, for lack of a better word, evangelists for EHS. They want to share their message with the world.

As we head into 2018, that’s my challenge to you: Be an evangelist. Be a leader. Share your knowledge, experience and passion with the world. When people see your passion, they will trust you and they will embrace your message.

You have a story to tell. Go tell it.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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