Find Your Why for Safety Leadership

Every minute and every person counts when it comes to safety.

Dr. Cassandra Dillon, MS, CESCO, COSS
December 30, 2019

Leadership is the vessel that propels individuals and companies to new heights. As we begin to count down the remaining days of 2019, my question is, “What are you leading and why?”

Many of us lead from behind. In fact, servant leadership truly empowers people to use and find their individual strengths to contribute to the collective. To be a good leader one must also be a good follower and exhibit traits such as discipline, perseverance, humility, loyalty, integrity and empathy. As a child, I often heard my siblings say, you are not the boss of me. However, even today, I beg to differ. We are all our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.

As leaders, we often forget to walk in the path of those who are part of the “ship.” True leadership is leading a collective of people with a common goal to provide a service and/or product. Needless to say, without the efforts of the people on the “ship” (i.e. boardroom, company, plant floor, etc.) there would be nothing to lead or manage.

We all have heard the saying, “Where one is weak, another one is strong.” Our organizations and communities will be strong and vibrant when we purposely take the time to find ways to ensure that everyone can contribute. My grandmother used to make beautiful quilts and blankets from remnants of fabric. Each piece was totally different and truly a work of art. As an individual, what you have to offer to the world makes you different and important. We are all our own “CEO of me.”

What is the thing that centers you as an individual, manager and/or company? Why do you do the things that you do? What is your “WHY”? How many times in the past year have you taken the time to truly help someone find their why? We can all use mindfulness and intentionality to help others find their pathway in safety.

As I enter my 30th year as a safety professional, I have realized the value of self-evaluation. During this holiday season, I encourage each of you to do a S.W.O.T. (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis of your life, and come into 2020 with a new vision of who you are and what you can offer to others. Use your strengths to advance or maintain your position in the workplace and the community. Weaknesses and opportunities give you a chance to make changes and grow in your everyday life, both professionally and personally. Most people see threats as a bad thing. I, however, see threats as the positive encouragement needed to take my efforts to new levels and get my individual hustle on. I am grateful that my perspective on life will allow me to see my cup as always half full.

As a leader, I challenge you to concentrate on things that matter and make a difference in other people’s lives. Because at the end of the day, that should be really “why we do safety.”

I leave you with my favorite poem by Dr. Benjamin Mays called, Just a Minute. I use this poem to refocus myself on the main thing, which for me has always been safety.

I’ve only just a minute,
Only sixty seconds in it.
Forced upon me, can’t refuse it,
Didn’t seek it, didn’t choose it,
But it’s up to me to use it.
I must suffer if I lose it,
Give an account if I abuse it,
Just a tiny little minute,
But eternity is in it.

Dr. Cassandra Dillon, MS, CESCO, COSS

Dr. Cassandra Dillon, MS, CESCO, COSS, is the Women’s Workplace Issues Committee chair for the NSC Women’s Division.

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