What am I talking about? Consider a stool. A one legged stool cannot do its job. Neither can a two- legged stool. It would obviously fall over. Now, if we have three legs, the seat of the stool can be supported well. Of course, there may be more than three and that would support the seat better, but we should have at least three. Let’s apply this to a team. Every good team has good leaders, good team members and operates on good knowledge, plans, policies and rules. This applies to sports teams, companies, or the local mom and pop shop. Obvious stuff.
The First Leg: Good leaders create the overall picture, set the objectives, establish the vision, inspire etc. It is a lot more than just being the boss, of course. Also, in some way, EVERY team member is a leader even if it is just by setting a good example, like doing a good, safe job.
The Second Leg: Good team members are specialists in their specific jobs. They are in charge of the parts of their jobs- tools, actions, and safety. They make decisions to do certain things or not, based on training, understanding and observation. Don’t forget that leaders are also team members so this leg applies to them too.
The Third Leg: Good knowledge comes from many sources: training, consultants, OSHA, company policies, safety and ergonomics and so on. The key to ensure that it is GOOD data and not FALSE or partially good data. People who work safely follow the GOOD knowledge they have well.
A leader can bring in GOOD safety programs, doctors, exercise trainers, massage therapists, trainings for his or her team, but unless each team member follows through, takes it to heart and does his or her part by USING the knowledge, doing exercises, following the procedures, that team’s safety will be weak. Unless leaders have bought into the importance of safety and going beyond just minimal OSHA compliance, the team’s safety will be weak. Unless the knowledge and training is used well used, safety will be weak. Good team members and good leaders must have good knowledge. So you see, it does take THREE GOOD legs for to really work safely.