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Transformational Leadership In Safety

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Transformational Leadership and Safety

Jesse R. Blount

Baker College

Transformational Leadership and Safety

The Postal Service in Baton Rouge and cities around the nation has a poor reputation when it comes to safety and health of its employees. In an attempt to debunk this unjust accusation, Management and craft employees alike set out to accomplish a task never before achieved by a postal facility with more than 20 employees. Many managers in the Southwest Area thought it suicide to invite the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in for an inspection and try to achieve the highest recommendation obtainable, the coveted "STAR" award. The plants 491 employees, supervisors and managers using transformational leadership, prepared for and accomplished this achievement in only 90 days.

Transformational Leadership by definition is the broadening and elevating of the awareness, acceptance and attitudes of the workforce beyond their personal interest for the good of a group or company (Bass, 1990) Management, union officials, and craft employees acting as safety captains, worked together to motivate the workforce to see a bigger picture. The first and most important task was building a relationship of trust.

The Postal Service is notorious for discipline of its employees when something goes wrong but is slow to reward these same employees for a job well done. The Plant Manager at Baton Rouge, Joseph Tate a 42-year veteran of the service, decided that charisma, intellectual stimulation and individualized consideration, as discussed by Sally A. Carless (1998) were necessary in achieving a cultural change. He believed that in order to achieve a STAR rating the employees would have to come onboard. With the blessings of the Louisiana District office, he instituted a new safety program that was fashioned after that of Dow Chemical, 3-M and other industry leaders. Employee involvement, as in every industrial success, was the key.

Employees selected their own safety captains from the craft workers. Instead of the supervisors of each unit giving the same old boring safety talks, it was now the responsibility of the safety captains to present relevant safety information for each unit. Safety captains gathered information throughout the week, and used examples, tasks, tools and materials used within the unit for these talks. Weekly safety meetings became participative and interesting from the onset. Monthly meetings attended by the safety captains, the plant manager, and the district safety manager proved extremely productive. Monthly safety contests with prizes, job safety analysis completed by the employees themselves, additional OSHA sanctioned training, and a safety information centers on the workroom



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