In the recent Legitimate Leadership Safety Webinar, Sean Hagger described one memorable story he was told during the interview/survey process.
The story was about the actions of someone who, 30 years ago, was the manager of the world’s biggest ethylene plant in Teeside, England.
A large oil company had just opened up a gas field and they drilled underneath a river. The drilling process went awry, dislodging the earth underneath the feedstock pipeline and the product pipeline that were already there – leaving both of them hanging 100m in the air.
This company’s manager drove to the incident with Sean’s informant. He immediately ordered the halting of the drilling operation and shut down the entire ethylene plant for a week – even though there was immense pressure from both the internal stakeholders and the oil company to recommence works.
That ethylene plant was making £2million of profit a week which in today’s money would be around £2million a day ($2.3million).
That manager wasn’t prepared to put that profit before the well-being, health and safety of people and the environment.
Sean’s informant remembered this graphically 30 years later and still talked about it as having had a profound impact on him and everybody around him.
The lesson: the best leaders put people’s safety first, over results every single time – no matter the pressure to deliver.