What Makes A Good Safety Leader?
By Mark Taylor – see his previous very popular articles here
Inspirational safety leaders are reflective and critical thinkers who are able to envision health and safety as a creative enterprise for social, cultural, and individual good, and not simply as a means to transmit knowledge, duplicate systems and reproduce traditional ways of teaching.
- They share attributes such as high self-efficacy, a preparedness to be innovative and a willingness to be persevere in the face of adversity.
- They are willing to experiment and test out their beliefs into practice, and use the findings to develop both their pedagogy and proven safety philosophies.
- Inspirational safety leaders are articulate and can explain and justify their philosophies, but are also open and flexible to accept new insights and adapt their systems accordingly.
- They set high teleological goals that inspire individuals and groups to find new and effective methods for reaching the targets.
- Inspirational safety leaders enhance people’s self worth and in doing so increase their safety at work and at home. They are optimistic in their outlook and often provide a catalyst for increasing a mental sense of well-being.
- They value the innermost aspects of individuals, and use this a repository and repertoire for learning. They are able to detect a person’s unique strengths and utilise them for the good of the team.
- They value creativity as a source of expression which leads to new opportunities for intra and interconnectedness, allowing people to freely construct and deconstruct their ideas into safer systems.
- Inspirational safety leaders don’t expect miracles, but have a faith in every ones human potential (that everyone has a role in health and safety) and can nurture this into a cohesive society that unites different cultures and generations
- Inspirational safety leaders are constantly accompanied by two shadows – hope and fear. They hope for fulfilment and constant safety improvement, whilst fearing that the next fatality could be just around the corner. They expect the unexpected, are resilient and have a drive to improve in the face of adversity.
- They set high expectations of their people to embody health and safety as a core attribute of life and have a common belief that their employees can and will return home safely every day.
- They are able to identify their own bad safety habits and develop new ones which inspire others to follow.
- They create a ‘want to’ rather than ‘have to’ culture which develops sustainable positive attitudes towards safety.
- Through their social cognitive interventions they build a mechanism within every individual that leads to better decision making around personal and team safety.
- Inspirational safety leaders learn to trust and empower people to make their own safety decisions and hold themselves to account when the unexpected catches someone out.
- They have the ability to sense something is ‘just not quite right’ and keep digging until they find what’s troubling them.
- Through order and structure they translate safety messages into clear and concise meanings which everyone can understand and apply.
- Inspirational safety leaders are empathetic and able to put an arm around the shoulders of the victims and not blame the perpetrators when things go wrong. They simply say “That’s not like you, you’re better than that, I know you can…….” and paint a vivid picture for them to do it more safely next time.
- Dan Gilbert once said “There is no better joy, than helping people around you go to levels higher than they ever thought they could”.
- Inspirational safety leadership is therefore about helping people to make the right safety choices for themselves, their workmates and the community around them.
Do you aspire to be an inspirational safety leader, and if so, what are you going to do more safely tomorrow which can improve what you’re doing less safe today?