I know you've seen or experienced this before in your own careers - some people just don't know how to connect. Often times, they wander around like a stray dog in parking lot!

Well, let me tell you about my dad. My father was a wonderful man by many accounts – and he loved being with people. He loved being around other families, friends, and soon-to-be friends. To this day, nearly ten years after his passing, people still want to talk about my dad and how much they enjoyed being around him.

I miss my dad…

After 20-years of service as a laborer in the steel mills, dad was laid-off but successfully reinvented himself as record-setting salesman in the 1970s. Looking back, there’s little wonder why he did so well. Dad knew how to connect with people. Dad knew how to find common ground. He didn’t read about it or train for it, he just had it. He was interested in other people and really enjoyed helping them.

There was hardly a moment that passed when dad didn’t have the time to stop and talk with one of his clients, a friend, or an acquaintance. And dad often had a simple gift ready for those he’d meet. It might be a piece of candy, a pen with his company name on it, or a silver spoon for a newborn child. On occasion, at dad’s request, mom would even make some homemade goodies for one of his special clients.

Contacts and Conversations that Connect

At times, these contacts and conversations lasted way too long for his anxious children who stood nearby. My sister Tina and I wanted to go and be with our friends, to do our own thing. And sometimes these conversations were too long for mom who got anxious because of a roast in the oven or another household matter. But nothing seemed to bother dad enough to cut his conversations short. He was simply being Johnnie Sarkus – the guy who loved people and loved to talk!

Dad knew how to connect – he had a BIG infectious smile. He knew how to joke and have fun. He knew how to laugh. And he had a BIG handshake that kept on shaking – sometimes throughout the first minutes of a conversation. Looking back, that “perpetual handshake” was so funny – the handshake that just wouldn’t quit! “Ok dad – I think you can let go now!” I still remember someone saying those words.

Dad always showed concern about a person’s health, their family, and loved ones. And he was genuine. That’s what made him special. That’s what set dad apart. He seldom talked business unless the other person brought up business first. Often, I don’t think he really cared about business. From those encounters, referrals and future business would keep coming – it just seemed to flow.

You and Your Leaders and “That Connection”

In my motivational talks, training seminars, and consulting practice, I often discuss the need to connect with others. It may be with your boss, other managers or supervisors, or individuals who work for you. These contacts and connections are imperative if you want to have lasting success – if you want to get to world-class safety performance and stay there!

Do you know how to connect with your boss and stay connected?

How about your managers or supervisors? Do they know how to connect with those around them – individuals who need to be moved and motivated?

Do your supervisors know how to strike-up a conversation that helps to show care and concern for someone and ultimately their health and safety?

Do your supervisors and key employees know how to speak (one-on-one) in ways that will leave a lasting impression – helping individuals want to work safely? And not just when they’re “being watched” or when they’re “on-the-job.”

Dad created a lasting impression within me and upon many others. During his lifetime, dad built-up a little legacy of his own. What kind of legacy are you and your leaders building within your own organizations? What kind of legacy are you building and leaving when it comes to employee safety?

David John Sarkus, MS, CSP , The Safety Coach©is president and founder of David Sarkus International as well as technical editor for ISHN. He is a leadership coach, motivational speaker, and consultant who works with some of the biggest and best run organizations in the world. For more information regarding his services logon to: