Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Global Leadership-Safety

 Usually one deals with safety, security and the environment together.  However,  I think all three deserve separate treatment, especially in the blog format.  I'll start with safety.  Coll spends a lot of time in his book focusing on the CEO's and high profile public positions on the environment and the lingering effect of the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska.  By his focus on the CEO's and those high profile public positions, I think Coll really understates what it takes to operate safely every day.

Coll does accurately describe how central ExxonMobil's Operations Integrity Management System(OIMS) is to its effectiveness.  I've again attached a link to it.  Element 6-Operations and Maintenance, of this system gives you some idea of their approach.  Every day in an integrated oil company, there are thousands of people, often in remote places,  doing dangerous things.  It's a challenge to ensure "nobody gets hurt".   Every day there are staff operating huge, constantly moving equipment in Canadian oil sands, drilling wells in 5,000 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico, people  operating in countries with hostile insurgents, those in refineries working with combustible chemicals under great heat and pressure, and thousands who move people to work by air and ground and products to terminals by sea.  Another set of complications are organizational structures that include joint ventures and multiple contractors from different companies working together.....many of whom may not share the same safety emphasis.  It takes incredible leadership emphasis to make sure "everyone comes home" at the end of the work day.  That emphasis has to be every day, by every leader at every level.  In the company I worked in that included every meeting, even in office environments starting with a safety hazards, evacuation routes, alarms.  Since slips,trips and falls are among the most common lost-time injuries, holding on to the handrail while ascending or descending steps is another emphasis...even in urban office environment.  It's leaders who make a difference in ensuring all staff understand there is no trade-off between delivering results and trumps everything else.  There's more to it than just emphasis on safety but there is a fair amount of research that shows a high correlation between well led organizations and safety.

For the leader of a global enterprise, activity or practice there must be absolute clarity... no ambiguity or mixed messages... about safety.  Since by their nature global leaders are separated by time and distance, that clarity helps guide the actions of staff and first line leaders who must take decisions in the moment.

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