Chief Engineers & Facility Managers Conference: ‘Above the Line Behaviors’

Russ Reynolds sees the value of the individual as part of a team and recognizes how each person, and the choices they make, turn personal culture into organizational effectiveness.

To Reynolds, chief engineer at Abbott Power Plant, each moment while on the job is another opportunity to be ‘above the line.’ These positive and proactive work and interpersonal behaviors are generally those that include owning responsibility and proactively getting things done.

“Anyone can be a leader after a crisis or issue happens,” Reynolds said. “Real leadership occurs before you have a problem. You don’t want leadership to show up after a problem, good leaders correct problems before they happen.”

‘Above the line’ behaviors, to Reynolds, include things like attitude and desire, traits that are hard to measure when hiring or collaborating.

“Culture is the center post that holds everything up. Things like integrity, personal credibility, people who stand up and tell the truth, get results in a timely manner, people who don’t make excuses and develop good interpersonal skills.”

Attitude Over Aptitude

Reynolds sees a similarity in good hiring and human resources decisions to getting a drivers license.

When hiring or working with colleagues, Reynolds looks for three attributes: knowledge, skill/ability, and attitude/desire. Those traits all apply to learning how to drive.

“You can take a test and acquire knowledge about the car and the rules of the road, and gain skill and ability when you’re first practicing and getting your driver’s license,” Reynolds said. “Once you have your license, it comes down to: how do you drive your car? Are you always on someone’s bumper? Cutting them off? Going above the speed limit? That’s the attitude and culture piece.”

The way you drive your car, or go about your work, is more revealing to colleagues and supervisors.

“You want to have people with great knowledge and skills, but the desire piece overrides the knowledge and skills and ability.”