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Safety Culture & Leadership

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Safety culture and leadership are a matter of life and death.

This was no more clearer when comparing global players Exxon Mobil and BP. Both had major drilling issues on specific sites, Blackbeard West well (Exxon Mobil) and Macondo, Gulf of Mexico (BP).

Workers at both sites had concerns.

Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson decided to halt drilling (at enormous financial loss $170 million). BP continued driven strongly by the market and sadly ended in disaster (11 lives and countless environmental/brand damage). CEO Tony Hayward admitted he had known nothing about the well and its increasing difficulties leading to the explosion.

Deep down the two companies had different cultures and very different leaders.

Does your culture engage its people? Are ideas and concerns left in the car park or openly discussed without fear into the workplace?

Several years ago Bridgeworks worked with a steel company. Safety audits were appalling for the division we were asked to work with. 12 months later that same division was ranked the best on site. In fact, when the site shop steward ordered a strike for poor communication with management, the site we worked with responded “We don’t have any issue with management. If we have a problem we tell them, they listen and then act”

The solution was in building trust between management and workers. Creating a safe environment where open and fruitful conversations can flow.

It’s not rocket science.

If building a safety culture is your priority, contact us so we can share our latest research and strategies.

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The Best Leaders Look in the Mirror

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Experience has shown me that the best leaders are prepared to look in the mirror.

I recently spoke to a successful CEO who said “I need to preserve the energy I have. Unless I know that I am fully engaging the people around me, I’m making hard work for myself”

The higher up the organizational tree, more emphasis should be on ‘leading’ and less on ‘managing’.

Wouldn’t it be a shock if you discovered that your influence on others turned them to disengage and leave their ideas and innovation in the car park?

In Australia, the figures are staggering with around 60% of employees are disengaged* with their workplaces – they do what is asked of them in getting the job done, pick up their pay and go home.

Around 16% are actively disengaged in their workplaces. These are people who are actively a burden on your workplace.

This leaves around 24% who are actively engaged – proactive in working to improve workplaces, challenge the status quo and always looking at ways to improve productivity.

Such people are gold! Want to know how to lift engagement? Look in the mirror!

The good news is that engagement is dictated by the attitudes, actions and behaviours of workers next up line manager.

Have you provided opportunities for either yourself or your leaders to ‘look in the mirror’ to get high-quality feedback on how others see you or them?

This is an investment that potentially reaps a significant reward for your business.

If you are interested in finding out how effectively you engage others, let’s chat.


* Gallup Employee Engagement 2011-2012

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How do you improve communication 110.8%?

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No tricks, no fads, just what a robust conversation can do.

We hear it all the time – the need for a ‘Brave’ conversation, tough love or getting the real issues on the table. These days this can be high risk and dangerous. A robust conversation can easily turn into a bullying claim.

But time and time again, creating a safe environment where we need to have the conversations we REALLY want to have is an art we have worked on for many years.

Recently Bridgeworks was referred to a food processing business of around 700 staff.

The task was to work with the CEO and Management team – the whole business was suffering due to the weight of poor communication and collaboration at the leadership end of business. This was made clear using Bridgeworks Team Health check. The one page summary below outlines the dire straights this business was in.

With the help of the highly insightful “How Others See Me” profile, it was clear that most relationships in the Leadership team were poor. This high quality data, prompted with well-tailored experiential challenges was used to generate targeted discussion about barriers in the team.

The results speak for themselves. 2 months following the Bridgeworks program, the Team Health check results were remeasured. (see below)

  • 110% improvement in communication,
  • 79.7% in vision and
  • 52.9% improvement in trust.

This was a massive weight off the shoulders of the CEO who felt the battle was being lost.

Now the coast and the future are much clearer.

The lesson is to make sure that you regularly measure the quality of your team’s health together with the quality of your leadership. Such insights can help bullet proof your business.

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Helping Farmers get the Edge

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Last month Wayne was asked to work with some of the top performing dairy and beef farmers in South Australia. Some of these farms have up to 25 staff and herds of over 1,000 cattle.

For 3 days we worked together exploring how their leadership can turn their respective workers into ‘Professional Teams’. The most significant highlight for them was understanding the difference between managing people and leading them.

There were a lot of laughs but equally a lot of learning. Even the greatest technicians are not necessarily the greatest coaches. For many of these farmers, this was the missing link in taking their farms to the next level of performance and production.

The fact they all wanted to develop themselves as leaders, highlights why they are at the top of their industry.

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Engineering is Logical, People are Not

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I’m not saying engineers can’t lead people, but the bottom line is engineering is logical, people are not. Management is also more about logic, i.e. budgets, resources, ROI, where leadership is more about emotions, trust and respect – you don’t think trust, you feel trust.

So what do YOU need to do to be more successful as a leader not just a manager?

Consider the following:

  • You might be your team’s manager, but would your team vote for you as their leader? Titles mean nothing when it comes to leadership.
  • When was the last time you looked in your leadership mirror? Do you really know the impact you are having on your team?

Note: At the risk of over generalising and offending a whole group of engineers, I will point out before I start that these observations are not meant as judgements and are based on all the wonderful engineers and asset management professionals I’ve worked with over the past 20 years.

Engineers and Asset Management professionals are generally very process oriented, data driven and logical. They are usually confident of their decisions because they are backed up by quality data. While these are all great characteristics, they’re not necessarily characteristics that develop good relationships.

I often see highly technically proficient people being singled out for their excellent work and suddenly given a team to manage. The organisation will say, “Actually, you’re very competent at this process, so therefore we are promoting you to be the team leader.” Immediately the skillset required changes completely.

Those highly technical skills honed over many years have to be shifted towards people skills – understanding a group of people who each have different motivations, personalities and egos.

  • The real challenge is that people no longer want to be ‘managed’
  • People want good leadership.  Do you know the difference between ‘managing’ & ‘leading’?
  • You might be your team’s manager, but would they vote for you as their leader?

Here are four questions that will dictate your personal, leadership and team effectiveness:

1. Why does your leadership style work with some people but not with others?

  • When was the last time you looked in your leadership mirror?
  • Do you understand the impact you have on your team members and colleagues.?
  • Are you a bridge ‘burner’ or a bridge ‘builder’? This is where the name of our organisation, Bridgeworks, originated. Exploring how well you build bridges with people.

It takes courage to look in the leadership mirror, but then again leadership is about courage. Those that need to look in the mirror the most, resist the most.

One process we use is called ‘How Others See Me’. It’s not like the classic 360 feedback tool, which measures what you do.  How Others See Me measures more who you are – your behaviour, your attitudes, how you build trust and your interpersonal effectiveness.

2. Have you thought about what motivates you, compared to what motivates your staff, family, others?

  • Do you understand that you can only motivate yourself, but you can influence others – positively or negatively?
  • We are not talking about ‘rah-rah’ extrinsic motivation more intrinsic motivation – what gets you out of bed in the morning.
  • What drives you, what drives your team, what drives your teenage kids!

Dr William Marston back in the 1920s wrote a book called Emotions of Normal People. He was fascinated at how people behave differently, and in particular how the Greeks 2,000 years ago went about classifying behaviour. If you were a direct, confident, strong-willed person, you were called ‘choleric’, whereas if you were someone that’s more laid-back and ‘She’ll be right mate’ you were seen as more ‘phlegmatic’.

In the 1960s Dr John Geier, developed the ‘DISC profile’ based on Dr Marston’s principles. Since then over 50 million people globally have used DISC to help them understand why people do what they do. We will be exploring this tool during my session at Mainstream Conference.

3. Do you understand the real difference between management and leadership?

You manage ‘things’ but you lead ‘people’. Both are important – a job or project has to be done, but people need to be engaged in the process.

How well do you engage others?

As mentioned earlier management is more about logic, where as leadership is more about emotions. In your past have you worked in what you considered was a good job but with a poor leader? Their technical skills and process was excellent but people skills lacking. I’m sure this environment didn’t get the best out of you.

4. Do you understand why being trustworthy does not always build trust?

Do understand that people build trust differently? What are your strengths and weaknesses in building trust?

Many people in senior management roles assume their role makes them a leader.

Leadership has nothing to do with your management title, the size of your office or even your MBA.

IQ does not correlate with emotional intelligence (EQ).  Leadership is an EQ skill and it should be seen as a ‘special gift’ from your ‘followers’ based on trust and respect, not position power or formal appointments.

You may believe that you are ‘trustworthy’, but why is it that some may NOT trust you?

To simplify ‘How to build trust’ we will be working through a powerful model – ‘The 4 Elements of Trust’. T

his provides a logical system in understanding how best to build trust with others. Elements include; straightforwardness, openness, reliability and acceptance. We all have a preference for certain elements.

Ask yourself these simple 4 questions above. Quality leaders continually do this. They are prepared to learn, be more open to change and be able to build a climate of trust and respect with their teams. Their leadership harnesses the best from their teams and stakeholders.

Isn’t that what we all want?



You can hear more from Wayne Dyson at Mainstream Conference in March 2017 (in Melbourne and Perth). Join him for a 2 hour interactive workshop ““Engineering is Logical, People Are Illogical” – People Skills for Engineering Managers” to discover a logical, practical, easy to use system to understand yourself and others you work with. 

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Bonuses & the Brain

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Want a bonus? Rather than check your IQ, check your EQ (Emotional Intelligence).

The other day, Beyond Blue Chairman, Jeff Kennett addressed a forum of senior business executives calling for performance bonuses of Chief Executives to be partially tied to the mental wellbeing for their employees.

Neuroscientists, studying the impact of stress on the brain, have built a clear case for a new approach to leadership: one that involves a nuanced approach that adapts to the needs of individuals.

Forget ‘feel good’, this is about productivity and results

According to PwC, Mental stress costs Australian businesses more than $10.9 Billion each year, according to Safe Work Australia. This staggering figure includes time lost from low performance, absenteeism and compensation payments.*

Here’s one way to get over 100% return in your dollar spent. PwC research also highlights that for every dollar spent on mental health a minimum of $2.30 is returned (up to $5.70 in some industries).

Having a clearer insight into your leaders’ and organisations’ health is the starting point – an effective platform to start with is Bridgeworks’ Organisational & Team Health check. and exploring your DISC profile or effectiveness as a leader.

Call 03 9585 7990 today if you would like a free trial of this powerful workplace health diagnostic.

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Failing to confront the bully

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You don’t need to go too far back in history to see what happens if we don’t confront ‘bully behaviour’.

We can easily blame Hitler for what he did. But up until when he committed his atrocities during WW2, few people and even countries failed to keep him to account.

It is claimed that this is what Britain and France did with Hitler in the 1930s.  

Hitler built up his army.   After 1936, he reintroduced conscription, and by 1939 Germany had 95 warships, 8,250 airplanes and an army of 1m..  Hitler even war-tested his armed forces in the Spanish Civil War.   Britain and France turned a blind eye to these breaches of the Treaty of Versailles – Britain even made a naval agreement with Germany, accepting Germany’s right to a navy 35% of the British navy.   

Using the DISC behavioural system, Hitler could be seen as employing RED/negative “D” (Dominant/Decisive) behaviour.

The least effective way to handle this bully behaviour is to appease, rather than confront – usually RED “S” (Steady/Supportive) behaviour. I believe people who exhibit D behaviour appreciate more being confronted that people pandering to their controlling nature.

I see this all too often in business, people would rather ‘keep the peace’ rather than call people to account.

In the end everyone loses.

Confrontation coming from a value base usually ends up a win-win for all – BLUE behaviour all around! It’s not usually the easiest action to take – that’s why it takes leadership to enact.

Next time when you see bully behaviour, before you decide to appease you may need to show some leadership, speak up, take action.

Good luck! 

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Values Posters – Pathetic or Practical?

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Take down your VALUES posters. You know, the ones that say how much “Integrity” or “Teamwork” etc you display.

Unless your staff can put their hands on their hearts and say that you, as their manager/leader, live and breathe what these posters articulate – leave the wall blank.

Otherwise they will do MORE DAMAGE THAN GOOD.

I just finished a teleconference with graduates from our recent Leadership NOW program. We all agreed that VALUES statements on display do more harm than good if such values are NOT lived and breathed by leadership. Until the evidence reinforces such values, leave the wall blank.

How do you know whether you live and breathe your corporate VALUES? It starts by having the courage to ask the people you lead open and honest feedback (that’s if the trust is there). It’s called ‘looking in the mirror’ and highlights how people see your behaviours, actions and attitudes.

Remember, leadership is not necessarily about being nice. It’s about being HOW you communicate, what level you respect others including your effort to continually engage and include others in decision-making.

How good you are at getting worker’s brains out of the carpark and into your business?

This is the focus of our next Leadership NOW program on Lady Elliot Island in October.

Join us if you have the courage!

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The Victorian Liberal party and the public decided Ted Baillieu was not cutting the mustard as Premier of the great Australian state of Victoria. He’s now been axed.

Do we really care that he is has been working his tail off behind the scenes for us Victorians? That he is a decent human being with a great deal of humility? That he has endless love for Victoria & appreciates the honour for “serving such a great state”?

Not really.

Even a supportive collegue Jeff Kennett said that Ted is overusing his strengths (being reflective, quietly spoken, Mr Nice guy) – “Ted needs to better ‘sell the sizzle’ of his accomplishments, the great vision he has for Victoria & his plan to make it all come together”.

Interestingly I had started this blog a nmber of days ago and now Ted is no longer Premier. Although we don’t know exactly what has happened behind the scenes, his style has let him down. Being over reflective and under selling the vision and excitement of his plan has cost his job.

By the way what was his plan, his vision, his passion?

Perception is everything!

To better understand the dynamic of what has gone on let’s use some science.

The “D.I.S.C.” behavioural profile is a powerful and widely used tool that helps us to understand our different motivations – the “WHY” of what we do and what drives us.

Ted Baillieu’s style was more “S” and “C” – “S” meaning “STEADY SUPPORTIVE behaviours while “C” represents “CAUTIOUS COMPLIANT” behaviours. Together the nature of the beast is reserved, risk avoiding behaviours.

People like Ted frustrate many of us by taking a long time to make a decision and be guarded in their behaviour – not giving away a lot. The upside is when they do talk listen up as they have usually put a lot of thought into what they say.

Jeff Kennett on the other hand, exhibited opposite behaviours, “D” and “I” behaviours – “D” being “DIRECT DECISIVE” behaviours, “I” being “INTERACTIVE INSPIRING” behaviours. Both are outgoing,  risk taking behaviours. Jeff’s problem was that he didn’t know when to shut up.

We loved him because he got us excited, he had a way of selling a vision, selling the future. We sacked him because he didn’t listen enough – his drive became arrogance and not enough humility. I’m not sure if he always engaged his mouth before putting his brain into gear?

Leadership becomes more and more critical the higher we are in any organisation government or corporate.

In Jim Collins (author – “Good to Great”) the best leaders show both intense humility and drive. They know when and where to exhibit these essentials. They also know themselves well and are able to show flexibility when it counts.

Pity no-one told both Ted and Jeff

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