Mining For Accountability

When Donald L. Blankenship, the former chief executive of Massey Energy Company, was convicted of conspiring to violate federal safety standards, a track record of dodging safety standards and devaluing people came to light.

Twenty nine miners were killed in a mining accident in the Upper Big Branch mine in 2010. During the trial that ensued, information and recordings came to light that depicted a chief executive whose only concern was the bottom line. People didn’t matter and safety didn’t matter. It was all about money.

Recordings that came from Massey’s own office showed that he was only concerned with the bottomline. Safety standards were bypassed, warnings were sent into to the mine when government inspectors showed up so the miners could make it seem like they were doing the right things and ultimately people died in an accident that looked like it was an event that could have happened over 100 years ago before modern mining safety standards came into play.

Power led to the problem, or should I say an abuse of power led to the problem. When people fear for their very livelihood, when they are worried about being able to feed their children, they do what they must to move forward. No-one should be put in the position of choosing between risking their life and feeding their family, but the miners in this situation faced that decision daily.

There is another way! There is a way to create incredible profits without creating a situation where people feel they are being managed by a whip.

Just like devaluing people leads to a result, valuing people leads to a result. And, the valuing people result is always going to out produce devaluing people. When an organization knows what they value, the people understand and live those values. When the values are based around valuing people and quality internal and external relationships, as well as excellence and superior character of the organization, then an amazing work environment will blossom. When oppressed by leadership, people are made to feel like the problem and a negative work environment exists.

This is not a people problem. This is a leadership problem. It doesn’t have to be this way and the time has come to stop tolerating leaders who put their people at the bottom of the list of priorities instead of at the top.

It is time to insist on an environment, or culture, based on sound values, where people want to be accountable; they want their leaders to be successful and their organization to flourish and they want to feel like an important part of the solution. When this occurs, employees are happy, engagement soars and profits naturally grow.

You lead people; and the best leaders are those who know the value of people and the importance of organizational values. Successful leaders understand that the longterm success of an accountable organization is directly tied to these two critical elements.


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