I am often asked if I feel there is a difference between a leader and a manager. My answer is always an unequivocal yes. I am a firm believer in the statement that you manage things and you lead people. This is one of the missing pieces when it comes to many safety professionals— leadership training. I have seen evidence of companies that do all types of company and regulatory training, and completely disregard one the most important pieces of training for their leadership. And they sit back and wonder why their safety endeavors are not successful. It can be boiled down to lack of effective leadership and being able to influence people.


John Maxwell, in his book, Developing the Leader Within You, simply states that, "leadership is influence."

Byrd Baggett, in his book, Dare to Lead, states that, "the heroes are the leaders who realize the worth of people; those who understand the power of compassion; those who understand and value the dignity of employees. These men and women understand the wisdom of serving others and the positive influence that genuine concern for others have on the balance sheet."

Kouzes and Posner, in their book, The Leadership Challenge, state that leadership is the "art of mobilizing others to want to struggle for shared aspirations."

The definition most used by the author simply states that, "leadership is the ability to inspire others to exceed their perceived talents through guided empowerment and being enabled." It also helps if you have followers!

Here is a list of what the author feels are the qualities of an effective leader:

  • Honesty: Worthy of our trust

  • Forward-looking: Seeing the big picture for themselves, workers and the company

  • Inspiring: Communicating the vision

  • Competent: Capable of effective decision making

  • Character: What you are when no one else is around

  • Trust: Doing what you say you are going to do

  • Servant Leader: Willing to serve others

  • Strong People Skills: Fully understanding people

  • Motivator: Giving people the opportunity to grow and expand their knowledge

  • Integrity: Doing what's right but maybe not popular

  • Positive Influence: Ability to attract the right people

  • Responsible: Doesn't pass the buck

  • Positive Attitude: Ability to pass on this attitude to the right people

  • Problem Solver: Solver, not creator

  • Desire to continue to learn

  • Time Manager

  • Unselfish: Giving credit to others

  • Self-Discipline: Following tasks to completion

  • Change Maker

  • Good Listener

  • Legacy Builder: Growing other leaders

  • Executor: Getting things done

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