A leader leads by example, whether he intends to or not.
In two organisations (both in the oil industry) I have also been asked to hold the rail while walking on the stairs. Like covering the coffee, it seemed like “health and safety” gone mad!
I thought to myself, “I’m not a child; I don’t need to be told what to do!”
It was the attitude of a defiant teenager.
Then last year, I finally got the lesson. I was a bit slow to learn. In fact, it took me TWO injuries to REALLY get it!.
In April as I was about to leave on holiday, I slipped on the stairs almost breaking a toe. As I limped around on my holiday, I regretted that careless moment of rushing.
I was a bit more careful on the stairs after that .... well, for a while.
At the end of my Australian Christmas holiday I ran up some stairs with bare feet. I wasn’t paying attention AND I wasn’t holding the rail. I slipped and badly sprained a tendon.
Weeks later, it was still costing me. Walking was painful, so my exercise programme and fitness levels suffered. I ended up having pain elsewhere in my body as I tried to avoid the pain of walking normally.
There is a simple and important point here.
A careless moment (sometimes from trying to “save" time and/or money) can cost us lots of time … and lots of money. The “knock-on effect” becomes even greater than the direct and immediate impact of the accident.
BP learned this with the Gulf of Mexico spill. The owners of the Costa Concordia cruise ship are learning it now.
When I walk on stairs now, I generally choose to hold the rail. When I don’t, I am much more mindful of what I’m doing. Either way I am making a small investment that can save me a lot.
In general, careless words and actions can ultimately cost us:
- unnecessary heartache in relationships;
- lots of time and money in business.
On the other hand, taking care and being aware can protect these assets and gradually increase their value.
As a leader, stop and think ... are you taking care and being aware WHILE you are taking action?
Are you paying attention?