The very recent passing of Chuck Noll, Hall of Fame coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, has stirred the emotions and thoughts of many. Chuck Noll is the only NFL head coach to win four Super Bowls and may be the greatest NFL head coach of all time. Charles Henry Noll never received the credit he truly deserved but those closest to him realized his exceptional leadership qualities, almost instantly.
In the local press coverage, former players and those from the Steelers’ front office have had the most to share about Coach Noll. He had many outstanding leadership qualities but one of the most highly regarded was his candidness. Chuck Noll knew how to be very straightforward about performance but he wasn’t deeply offensive – he had tact. We can learn from Chuck Noll by being forthright and candid about safety-related performance.
1. Be as direct about performance issues by being as open and honest as possible.
2. Don’t make it personal or use name-calling to defeat someone.
3. Don’t wait to address performance issues - the earlier the better.
4. Don’t belittle someone in front of their peers or others.
5. Use your words carefully – some words cut deeply and humiliate.
It takes courage and tact to be appropriately candid, but it is very necessary in order to hold people accountable and to set a standard of performance that will define your culture for safety. Mike Tomlin, the current head coach of the Steelers, often uses a phrase that characterizes the Steelers’ culture of success, “the standard is the standard.”
The Steelers’ standard of success didn’t start with Coach Tomlin, it started with Chuck Noll. Learn to be candid about safety performance; it will go a long way in setting and defining your own standards of success.