September 2014

As chief elected officer of the Society, ASSE's president promotes the advancement of the Society and the safety profession, and represents ASSE before members, other relevant professional societies and various governmental agencies. Professional Safety shares his latest thoughts on the Society, the profession and its practice.

Read past messages in the President's Message Archive.

President's Message - January 2003

2002-2003 ASSE President Mark D. Hansen, PE, CSP, CPE

Success Requires 'Us' and 'We'

A leader in a peer organization recently asked me, "How do you handle the comments and inquiries from your members? Don't they know that you are their leader? Don't they know that you have to take them, sometimes screaming, where you want them to go?" I replied, "I like the accountability. Without it, we would go where Mark wants to go, not necessarily where ASSE wants to go. And that would impede ASSE's overall progress. Besides, if they are kicking and screaming, perhaps I am taking them where they don't want to go."

Taking this approach means eliminating "me" and "I" from my vocabulary. It means relying on "us" and "we" to guide ASSE toward success. And it means realizing that my needs are secondary to the greater agenda of the organization. Nobody is a whole chain; each of us is a link. Take away one link and the chain is broken. Nobody is a whole team; each of us is a player. Take away one player and the game is forfeited. Nobody is a whole orchestra; each person is a musician. Take away one musician and the symphony is incomplete. I'm sure you get the picture: We all need each other.

To make things work, we must lean and support, relate and respond, give and take, release and rely. ASSE is no different. Your elected leaders are not really leaders in the true sense of the word. We are servant-leaders who rely and depend on you to determine where you want us to take the profession. By keeping us accountable through copious communications, you prevent us from becoming insular, arrogant (and likely, tyrannical) leaders.

Remember the old cowboy saying, "Every once in a while, you have to look back to make sure the herd is still there"? Well, as your elected leaders, we need to look back often to make sure we are facilitators, leading where you want to go. ASSE leaders truly are here to help you. We give our time and effort because of our passion for the profession, not for the title bestowed by ASSE. I'm sure none of your elected leaders were hired by their current employers specifically because of their positions with ASSE. When we complete our terms of office, we return to what we were when we started-and what we were throughout our terms-members.

In the end, our results-and therefore, our success-depend on "us" and "we," not "me" and "I." As we proceed through the year, continue to communicate with your chapter officers so they can communicate with your regional officers and the Board of Directors. We covet your feedback.

Your elected ASSE leaders are servant-leaders who rely and depend on you to determine where you want us to take the profession.

Mark D. Hansen, PE, CSP, CPE