10 Elements of Strategic EHS Leadership

NAEM is at General Mills’ headquarters in Minneapolis this week for our annual EHS Compliance Excellence conference. This morning Paul Narog, Manager of Environmental Operations from 3M Co. shared his advice for balancing the daily demands of the job with the kind of strategic thinking that drives progress. Here are his top 10 tips for being a strategic EHS leader:

1. Live and Lead with Honesty, Integrity and Purpose: It starts here because this is the base where everything else starts from.

2. Foster Initative and an EHS Culture into every role: It’s not just the EHS people that you want to understand EHS, it’s the production supervisor, the waste management coordinator and the marketing manager. It’s also important to ensure that you embed your EHS culture into your operations across the globe.

3. Think three or more years into the future to anticipate and address opportunities and threats: This is a tough one to do, but you’re going to have to pause and carve time out to think about what’s happening outside of your company and how it will affect you. What’s happening inside of your company? And what’s the company doing differently? What’s happening from a resources standpoint?  While you’re managing the day-to-day, you have to be creating systems off to the side that are positioning your organization for the future.

4. Define and drive SMARTS (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-based, Stretch) Objectives: This is basic blocking and tackling, but you have to have that tactical implementation to drive strategy in an organization.

5. Create an EHS framework and tools to enable success: Having that blanket approach drives success because it drives dialogue and helps people think about what they’re working on.

6. Connect to people’s hearts through servant leadership, empowerment and competitive zeal: I think in the end if you really want to connect with someone, you have to be present and influence others through your passion for what you do.

7. See the big picture and maintain appropriate balances (compliance/stewardship; lagging/leading indicators; tactical/strategic):
Appropriate balances  are going to be very dynamic. When you think about a teeter totter, this is akin to how your priorities continue to shift as you manage your programs–balancing tactical needs or strategic plans, compliance activities against stewardship goals.

8. Share progress and encourage creativity, initiative to achieve desired outcomes: The important thing here is to engage employees through the media that they prefer.

9. Deeply embed recognition through both personal actions and long-term reward programs: How do you have strategic leadership stick and be effective? This is about connecting with people and getting that momentum.

10. Drive employee development and successful plans:
In the end, you think about EHS leadership legacy and who comes next. How do you maximize everyone’s potential? It’s not just the results, but how you mold and develop your team to achieve the best results.


For more updates from NAEM’s 2013 EHS Compliance Excellence Conference, stay tuned to the Green Tie this week. To learn more about the speakers we’re featuring, please visit: http://ehscompliance.naem.org/

About NAEM Staff

The National Association for Environmental Management (NAEM), is a non-profit professional association that empowers corporate leaders to advance environmental stewardship, create safe and healthy workplaces, and promote global sustainability. As the largest network for environmental, health and safety (EHS), and sustainability decision-makers, we provide peer-led educational conferences and an active network for sharing solutions to today’s corporate EHS and sustainability management challenges. Visit NAEM online at www.naem.org.

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