As I reflect on a career spanning 30 years, there are five leadership attributes that have been particularly instrumental for me:
1) Approachability: The first is approachability. We work in a compliance function, so it is especially important that folks feel comfortable coming to us with challenges. Being an understanding, active listener is essential to foster open conversation to resolve issues.
2) Technical capacity: Second, possessing strong EHS technical skills, even at a senior leadership level, allows one to deep dive on specific EHS matters which may have significant impact. This level of technical competence establishes credibility not only with internal staff but with external consultants and regulatory agencies as well.
3) Communication: The third key attribute is communication, both verbal and written. The art of communicating and distilling complex EHS technical activities into simplified “sound-bytes” without diluting the gravity of the message , often directed to a non-technical audience, is a skill that is honed over time.
4) Results: Driving for results is the fourth characteristic which demonstrates that you reliably achieve goals and objectives using positive behaviors. Results driven behaviors may include having advanced organizational skills, the ability to get work done through others and working well across functional boundaries. The key is that you achieve the desired results by embracing the right behaviors to accomplish them.
5) Sense of Humor: Last, but not least, is having a good sense of humor. Being able to poke at yourself in the spirit of self-directed humor can in itself make folks feel comfortable in the most difficult situations. Embracing humor can be constructive and positive overall and enhance your ability to excel in all of the other four highlighted leadership attributes discussed.