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The Best Safety Motto of All Time

By Bryan McWhorter
Published: October 18, 2021
Key Takeaways

When team members know they are valued and respected, safety comes naturally - so does working with a sense of purpose and helping each other.

Caption: Workers wearing PPE Source: NanoStockk / iStock

You might not realize it, but you've already heard the best safety motto that's even been written.

It's the creed of the Three Musketeers: "all for one and one for all."

That's a statement that embodies loyalty and trust. It sets the foundation for a culture that is committed to every single one of its team members. It resonates with every employee's desire to be included and valued.


Have you ever been part of a team or group where you felt a strong sense that you were all in this together? You had that “all for one and one for all” level of commitment. You knew your team had your back and you had theirs.

It's an incredible feeling. And it creates an environment where people thrive and go home at the end of the day feeling fulfilled.

Why Strong Teams Matter

Strong leaders look at a team and see the individuals that are part of it. And those individuals gain two core benefits from being members of a team:

  1. Protection: "All for one and one for all" means we all look out for each other. We watch each other’s backs. Because of that, we all feel safer.
  2. Amplification of effort: When everyone feels protected, they can go all-in and commit to the vision and goals set for the team. We can do more as a group than we ever could if we were divided, and everyone is motivated to contribute when their efforts are noticed and appreciated.

That last point is cirtical. People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. Either everyone matters or no one does.

That's what safety is about. It's not just about keeping OSHA away or giving the company a better image. It's about showing employees they are truly valued.

Company leaders put safety first because their people come first. They protect their team members.

How do you show your team that you care? By treating individuals with dignity, respect, and keeping them healthy and safe.

(Learn about The Importance of Employee Engagement and Its Impact on Your Bottom Line)

Leaders Protect Their People

Paul O’Neill’s leadership as the CEO of Alcoa is now legendary. He believed there were three questions everyone should answer "yes" to:

  1. Are you treated with dignity and respect every day by everyone you encounter?
  2. Are you given the things you need so you can contribute in ways that give your life meaning?
  3. Do you get regular recognition for what you do and how you contribute?

He referred to these questions as "the acid test to show if you are on the right path for leadership in any organization.”

It was clear that Paul O’Neill valued people. And what was the result? He led Alcoa into record growth and profitability - increasing its market value from $3 billion in 1986 to $27.53 billion in 2000. Net income also increased from $200 million to $1.484 billion during his tenure as CEO.

(Learn about The Difference Between Safety Leadership and Safety Management)

How we treat others says more about us than it does about them. Giving dignity and respect to all shows integrity and character. This builds trust and naturally leads to collaboration and teamwork. Integrity creates trust and fosters teamwork.

“All for one and one for all” is a statement that captures that interdependence. We are stronger as a group, but we still are individuals.

The Three Musketeers had it right. By committing to protect individuals within the team (“all for one”) you gain a level of collaboration (“one for all”) that your team will love and your competitors will fear.


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Written by Bryan McWhorter | Lead Safety Advisor, Author, Writer, Speaker

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Bryan McWhorter is a safety professional with eight years of experience in driving and teaching safety. Bryan gained his knowledge and experience as the safety officer and Senior Trainer for Philips Lighting. Philips is a strong health and well-being company that promotes a safety first culture.

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