Ridge Commends Leaders for Exporting Safety

Good leaders are confident in their mission and in themselves, and they are capable of effecting change in a world that naturally resists it. That was the message today from the Honorable Thomas J. Ridge, delivering the opening session keynote at McCormick Place in Chicago, site of the National Safety Council’s 95th annual Congress & Expo.

”You may have a nameplate on your desk or bars on your shoulder or something on your door, but titles don’t generate leadership. Titles generate compliance,” said Ridge, the first U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security and former governor of Pennsylvania. Focusing on “Leadership and Preparing for the Unknown,” Ridge added that good leaders do not settle merely for maintaining compliance. “Leadership is about effecting change, and I’m glad we have leaders in this room who are accomplishing that and who are exporting safety to reduce accidental injuries and death. Safety is a wonderful thing for America to export.”

Since leaving his Homeland Security post in early 2005, Ridge has continued consulting on security and risk-related matter. “I must tell you I am enjoying life as a private citizen, but who installed all those security measures at those airports?” he joked. Addressing homeland security, Ridge said, “It’s really not a ‘War on Terrorism.’ Terrorism is a tactic. It’s an ideology. We have to be committed to this for the long term—it’s going to be a multi-generational effort, and if we want to take a leadership role, it’s going to require a sustained commitment.”

Leaders in Washington, D.C., cannot stand divided by “red” state and “blue” state divisions, he said. “We haven’t found too many solutions between the red and blue. When we get red-white-and-blue leadership, we’re going to be solving problems.” Advocating an approach of all-hazards preparation, he added, “We have to be prepared for the microbes of Mother Nature and the microbes of terrorism.”

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