If Leaders Don't Lead Followers Won't Follow

May 23 2022
By: Shawn M. Galloway

Hired to assess a company's culture, strategy, and system effectiveness, I had to have a frank conversation with the leadership team. The team was putting forth the correct level of effort. Moreover, after reviewing the data, they were also focused in the right direction. The problem? Employee engagement was not increasing, the culture was not improving, and there were problems with employees adhering to the safety rules.

If Leaders Don't Lead Followers Won't Follow

On day one of my visits, immediately when entering the parking lot the direction was visible and apparent throughout, reverse parking only. I noticed maybe twenty percent of the vehicles complied each day. When giving my feedback to the leadership team regarding my findings and recommendations, I asked the leadership team, if we were to all go out in the parking lot right now, please stand if would find your vehicle reverse parked. Only one individual stood.

While this was not the only influence on the culture, it was representative of a huge one. If leaders do not comply with the first rule faced when entering the complex, why would we expect the employees to follow it or others? If the leaders don't lead, the followers won't follow.

"What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say." — Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Every person has a legacy. You may not know what your impact is, and it may not be something that you can write on your tombstone, but every person has an impact on this world." — Dara Horn

Shawn M. Galloway

Shawn M. Galloway is CEO of the global consultancy ProAct Safety. He is a trusted advisor, professional keynote speaker, and author of several bestselling books on safety strategy, culture, leadership, and behavior-based safety. He is a monthly columnist for several magazines and one of the most prolific contributors in the industry, having also authored over 700 podcasts, 200 articles, and 100 videos. Shawn has received awards and recognition for his significant contributions from the American Society of Safety Professionals, National Safety Council's Top 40 Rising Stars and Top Ten Speakers, EHS Today Magazine's 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS, ISHN Magazine's POWER 101 - Leaders of the EHS World and their newest list: 50 Leaders for Today and Tomorrow, Pro-Sapien's list of The Top 11 Health and Safety Influencers and is an Avetta Distinguished Fellow.

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