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"Leadership is a Privilege"

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The ability to influence and motivate people to work toward a common goal is the essence of leadership. And for anyone who has held a position of leadership and tried to accomplish this act, they can attest that it is not as simple as it sounds.

All the definitions of leadership are quite rudimentary and only refer to the causal act of “A,” leading to “B,” leading to “C,” and then to a successful outcome. This overly simplified definition does not communicate the true herculean efforts it takes to motivate and manage the most vital part of the entire equation; the people.

The people can be the true “wildcard” in this formula, and when you have a leader that can consistently deliver the desired outcome regardless of the people involved, then you know you have a true gem. Interestingly enough, those leaders that deliver the most impact to workers and therefore to the process and repeatedly succeed, actually change the culture of the company.

Now that I have noted what a typical leader needs to accomplish for success, lets add the additional layer of Health and Safety to the mix. You would assume that the Health and Safety leader has an easier job than others since they are simply communicating to the people the need for them to stay safe. This leader is actually ensuring that people don’t get hurt and can get home at the end of the day. That should be simple…right?

Believe it or not, a leader cannot motivate someone who doesn’t want to be motivated. These people can only motivate themselves and the Health and Safety leader must take a decidedly different approach to appeal to the worker and to ensure a level of understanding that the worker can internalize in order to be safe. This requires a complete change in perspective and ensuring that all workers are vested into the direction being addressed by Health and Safety leaders requiring patience, perseverance, consistency, and at times nerves of steel.

Why is it important to note what is clearly self-evident to the success of any company: that good leadership contributes to the success of an organization and that Health and Safety leaders are akin to superheroes.

In my humble opinion, we have some incredible leaders in our construction industry, and doubly so in the Health and Safety side, but we do not spend enough time highlighting them and thanking them for their efforts. Additionally, we can all gain from their insight and experience, and I believe that makes our entire industry better.

This is the importance that the OGCA places on Leadership Day.

The OGCA has always maintained the stewardship of health and safety as one of its core foundational components and one of the main purposes for the creation of the OGCA. The association notably celebrates exceptional leadership in health and safety and recognizes those who perform extraordinary service to advance health and safety for construction.

The OGCA has gone one step further and created the Doug Chalmers Award, which is meant to embody an active and influential Health and Safety Leader that is dynamically effecting positive change in our industry.

At our most recent OGCA Leadership Day, held May 6, 2022, the OGCA recognized the incredible efforts put forward by Mr. Craig Sparks from Maple Reinders Group Ltd. as this year’s recipient of the OGCA Doug Chalmers Award.

Craig commenced his career on the tools and as a welder and worked his way up to his current role of National Health and Safety Director for Maple Reinders. His beginnings provided him with a worker’s perspective and insight, which in turn has allowed Craig the ability to intuitively connect with workers. This connection is what Craig uses as the catalyst to convince people to motivate themselves and appeals to workers to ensure a level of understanding that the worker can internalize in order to be safe.

Saying one is safe does not directly equate to demonstrating that element. As we say in construction, you need not just “talk the talk,” but instead you must “walk the walk.” Quantifiable and demonstrable is what is needed to truly be a health and safety leader.

Craig has always put the health and safety of those around him, his company and the construction industry at large first and foremost in everything he has done. Through his words, but more importantly, through his actions, Craig has proven that he truly cares about making a real difference in the Health and Safety of our industry. Therefore, based on nominations from industry peers, and after a thorough and extensive review by our judging committee, it was evident that Craig needed to be recognized as a worthy recipient of the OGCA’s prestigious Doug Chalmers Award.

The OGCA wishes to congratulate Craig Sparks on his award, but more so to thank him for everything that he continues to do for the construction industry. Craig is that rare leader that makes the role seem effortless simply because he has that innate ability to connect with people, which we have established is a rare ability to have.

Message directly to Craig Sparks:

The OGCA is privileged to have you as one of our members and humbled to be able to represent you to all of construction. You are incredibly deserving of this award and our industry is a better place because of your continued efforts!

Should any of our members have questions regarding the OGCA Leadership Day or any of its content, please visit the OGCA website, or if you require any assistance from the OGCA, please contact me directly at giovanni@ogca.ca or via phone at 905.671.3969.


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