By Don Zuch, PG  |   September 11th, 2015
While attending the DUG East Conference in Pittsburgh this past June, I did what I usually do at a conference:  listen, learn and endeavor to meet new people and inform them about all of the good works being done.
I also experienced some new and different things.  For example, I turned 55 – that’s different; and, I also had the opportunity to attend a prayer breakfast that was sponsored by the local chapter of the Oilfield Christian Fellowship – that was new (and well worth it).  The keynote speaker at the breakfast meeting was an impressive gentleman by the name of Mr. Mark A. McCollum.  In addition to being the Chief Integration Officer for Halliburton, Mr. McCollum is a very engaging and thought-provoking speaker, as we all discovered that morning. Mr. McCollum talked about leadership and specifically the concept of the “shadow of leadership.” 
As I understood it, the main takeaway was that each leader in an organization casts a shadow. Leaders project this shadow, regardless of whether they realize it or not – regardless if they want to or not.  So, depending on the individual leader, this shadow can touch colleagues, employees, basically everyone in an organization, in a variety of ways.  Accordingly, it is important for leaders to have an awareness of his or her shadow of leadership and the effects on the organization. 
Does the leader’s shadow empower employees?  Does it provide motivation and direction to meet important company goals? 
I found Mr. McCollum’s speech to be very powerful and I have been thinking about how the concept applies to the very important topic of safety in the workplace.  Since entering the workforce as a geologist several decades ago, I have worked in remote locations, active refineries and just about every place in between and in every type of weather.   I have been very fortunate to have worked for and with some excellent professionals that understood the importance of having good safety programs in place and developing a safety culture within the organization.  I have also been actively involved developing safety programs and cultures. 
Although safety was always important, I have observed that some organizations have had better “luck” than others achieving their goals.   Why do some organizations have better “luck” developing a great safety culture where others seemed to struggle?
I now believe that the shadow of leadership concept was at play.  The common thread to the successfully-developed safety cultures, is always, always, always the complete support and dedication of the company leaders.  The leadership shadow of the safety leaders I have worked with, and that I have observed, touches everyone in their organizations in a very positive way.  When the leadership shadow of a true safety leader touches employees, contractors and other stakeholders it becomes the bedrock that a successful safety culture is built upon.
So as a safety leader in my firm, I consider daily how my leadership shadow looks and feels to my customers and colleagues.  Am I following our vehicle policies?  Am I reporting near misses?  Am I mentoring short service employees?
What does your leadership shadow look like?
Stay safe my friends.
Don Zuch, PG, Principal
Don Zuch is Vice President and a Principal, serving as the leader of the Shale Oil and Gas Market at Hull & Associates, Inc. Supporting various E&P, Midstream, Refining, Logistics and Petroleum marketing clients, Don has performed rapid response consulting, third-party oversight, Phase I environmental site assessments (ESA) and audits,  established due diligence programs for confidential oil/gas asset acquisition projects, underground storage tank (UST) closure assessments, site characterizations, remediation pilot testing and coordinated remedial system design, and has managed remediation system installation projects and remediation O&M programs.  His background is in structural geology with a specialty in fracture analysis.  In this capacity, he has proven to be a particularly valuable resource in the delineation and remediation of hydrocarbons in fractured bedrock.    
Don is an active representative of Hull in the Marcellus Shale Coalition, serving on several technical committees.  He holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Geology from the University of Toledo.
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