July 27, 2023 / Ed Rutkowski

Three Thoughts on Leadership in OEHS

Three Thoughts is a SynergistNOW series based on episodes of the Healthier Workplaces Show, an AIHA video podcast.

During AIHce EXP 2023, the Nexus Lounge in the Phoenix Convention Center featured several short, informal presentations from luminaries in the profession who offered advice to the next generation of OEHS leaders. Jason Kunz, who helped organize the Lessons in Leadership series, joined host Bob Krell on the Expo floor for a live recording of the Healthier Workplaces Show, during which they discussed some of the advice passed down at the Lounge. The following are a few highlights from their discussion, which is now available as Episode 20 of the Healthier Workplaces Show:

1. Action—not knowledge—is power. Apply what you know to help make people's lives better.

2. People support what they create. Leaders need to do more than simply tell their staff what to do; they need to engage the people who do the work, ask for and listen to their opinions, and give them ownership of shared goals.

3. See the greatness in others. If you recognize colleagues and staff for their potential, you'll help them achieve it.

The episode is full of nuggets like these, which Kunz collected from the speakers who participated in the Lessons in Leadership series. Other observations include:

  • Know your "superpower"—the area in which you provide the most value.
  • Figure out creative ways to be included in important meetings.
  • Don't be afraid to inform superiors of problems, even if you don't have a solution yet.
  • When communicating about hazards or risks with workers or other stakeholders, simplify your message and be sure to explain why you're sharing it.

In the second half of the episode, Krell welcomes Andrew Floeder and Nathan Chen, who received Best in Show awards for student posters at the conference. Floeder and Chen talk about how they developed their posters and prepared to deliver them at the conference.

Listen to the episode on the Healthier Workplaces Show webpage.

Related: The Synergist has published several articles with practical advice about developing leadership potential.

In the September 2022 issue, Samantha Connell and Felicity Furey discuss how emerging leaders can shift career paths to develop their leadership skills. Read "Millennials as Emerging Leaders: Younger Generations Are Key to the Future of IH and OEHS."

From the May 2018 issue, "In Hamilton's Footsteps: The Experiences of Women in Industrial Hygiene" shares the perspectives of five professionals on how to succeed in OEHS.

An older article that still has relevance for today's emerging leaders is "The IH Route Planner: Navigating a New Career" from the September 2015 issue. The article is based on interviews with three accomplished professionals who share career development recommendations based on their own experiences.

Ed Rutkowski

Ed Rutkowski is editor-in-chief of The Synergist.


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