Safety Leadership Corner Part 1: Greatness in Fear with Michael Hartnett
For several years, our team has been diving head first into the topic of leadership and its effect on cultural change. We’ve seen the immense impact of strong leadership on our organizations and have been honored to help develop leaders in the organizations we partner with. We believe a leader’s actions set the climate for changed behaviors, ultimately resulting in a cultural change.
Leadership is not about power, position or title; leadership is about influence. Regardless of your position in the organization, you have the ability to influence those around you and therefore have leadership potential. What you do with that leadership potential is where powerful things can happen.
We recently launched a weekly video series called Safety Leadership Vlogs™ to share leadership principles in power-packed videos. To continue the discussion on leadership, we’re inviting industry professionals to share their insights and knowledge on our blog.
To start off this new series – Safety Leadership Corner – we have Safety Professional, Michael Hartnett. Michael gained a passion for safety during the fifteen years he spent working at height with the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades. After earning his bachelor’s degree in Labor Safety and Health, and his Master’s degree is Educational Technology, he brought his trades experience to the safety side of business. In his role at Optimum Safety Management, Michael leverages his passion for safety and knack for innovative solutions to help clients meet to meet and exceed expectations.
Greatness in Fear with Michael Hartnett
I started my career as a tradesman in the Allied Trades industry. After 10 years working as a tradesman, I decided to trade professions. To become a safety professional, I went back to school at night while still working as a tradesman. I graduated in 2008, as the recession was growing in effect, and there was no work to be found. So, I kept on working and went back to school again.
The market had improved by the time I finished my master’s degree and I accepted my first job in safety, but it was not local. I then left my family for a year and a half to live on the road as a temporary site safety professional. Then I moved my family out of state and away from our extended family for another few years to establish myself as a safety professional. On the other side on the fear, I found much pain. It was difficult on my family, causing upheaval during my children’s high school years. A lack of support was clearly missed as we were eight hours away from friends and family. After five years away, I finally found an opportunity back in Chicagoland and returned to the fold of family and friends while growing in my career.
The fear I felt is similar to what my clients experience when beginning a cultural change initiative. As a safety consultant, I see issues obvious to me and will point them out to clients. The response I often hear sounds like “That’s just how it is in this industry,” or “We have always done it that way.” To me, this sounds of fear and the pain involved with organizational change.
To drastically change a major philosophy or pattern within your organization will often have barriers of fear and pain. There are always challenges to attaining worthwhile goals, and safety is no different. The goal is to come out the other side with a company that has a very real safety culture, and employees who feel valued. The goal is to have a more engaged workforce who are more productive and value the opportunity to work for a great company. To reach these goals it is imperative that we deal with our fears and endure the pain that comes with change, for on the other side of fear and pain is where greatness is attained.
For more on the topic of leadership, check out Safety Leadership Vlogs™